Remembering the Rebuild

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This week Jesse Payne faces his Parke County trial. The man allegedly set the Bridgeton covered bridge on fire completely destroying it back in 2005.

He faces other arson charges for various bridge burnings in the county.

The bridge you see here in Bridgeton was completely restructured in 2006. A year after the 1868 covered bridge was set aflame.

And during that year, it’s absence didn’t go unnoticed.

“People would come in because they’d be here year after year and they’d walk over to the window and go ‘ahh’ where’s the bridge?” Mike Roe, owner of the Bridgeton Mill Mike Roe can make light of the situation now, but at the time…

“It was like a funeral.”

Bridgeton resident Kathy Collom also owns a business in Bridgeton and has been a resident there her whole life.

She had many cherished memories of that bridge.

“When it was gone it was such an empty, it was just empty it was very sad and people wanted it back,” she said.

Kathy’s husband was instrumental in the rebuild. What the town thought would cost $1 million and a ton of man power to pull off… Proved easier than expected.

“We were raising a lot of money and people were donating trees and like forrests full of trees and then logging companies were volunteering to go get the trees and a lot of saw mills were willing to saw up the trees according to the blue prints,” Roe said.

The entire structure of the bridge is replicated after the original.

A town staple that brought along with it, power, production and prosperity.

And the effort from the community for the rebuild, was almost like history repeating itself.

“Thousands of towns in Indiana started this way,” Roe said.

Except, building this bridge took just 17 months and less than 200 thousand dollars to rebuild.

“It was a tragic thing to have happened, but it certainly brought our community together,” Collom said.

Roe is the 14th owner of the mill since the mid 1800’s and he’s actually writing a book called ‘Fourteen Miracles’ over the struggles the community faced restoring the history in the town. He expects to publish it by May.

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