The Bean Blossom Bridge became listed on the National Register of Historic Places on February 10, 2022.
A MODIFIED HOWE THROUGH TRUSS BRIDGE
The Bean Blossom Covered Bridge is one of Indiana's most loved, painted and photographed, being featured in magazines and periodicals throughout the country. It is a very rare type bridge and one of only three still in existence.
A bit of history: In June of 1880, Mathias Gilbert and 39 other concerned citizens petitioned the County Commissioners for a bridge to be built over Bean Blossom Creek to accommodate travel, teaming and transportation of mail between Nashville and Georgetown (now Bean Blossom). The petition was granted at a special meeting in July. Bids were then taken for wooden, iron and wrought iron bridges, some including masonry. The award was given to Captain Joseph Balsley, at that time a carpenter and stair builder, of Seymour, Indiana.
Timber, carefully chosen, came from a farm near Nashville, and stone for abutments came from a nearby property which Captain Balsley and Albert Ludkey had found earlier. This is what made the difference in price in the bid ($1,075) and won the award. As promised the covered, wooden bridge over Bean Blossom Creek was completed by October 1, 1880. And the Captain's son, J. D. Balsley, got to paint it red! Captain Balsley passed away in 1912 and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Indiana.
The bridge soon became part of the main road between Bean Blossom and Nashville until State Road 135 bypassed it in 1936. While frequently repaired (and even closed at times) for well over 100 years, it has somehow been carefully maintained to preserve its original form and integrity which many in the community contributed to.
In 1967 the bridge was closed once again to thru traffic and in 1968 both the bridge and road were reported to be in bad condition. A campaign was started to save the bridge by Doris and Mario Panicci, who lived on a farm close by. Considerable repairs were made and approaches amended making it safe to travel again. In 1976 and 1982 it was closed for short periods for repairs. More recent was the Building Trades high school class. Under the direction of Chris Todd they renovated the bridge in 1988 using materials supplied by the Highway Department. The Bean Blossom Boosters was another group that through contributions and fund-raising activities strived to maintain it by painting, cleaning and doing minor repairs. Their members would also inspect and report any need for major work to be done to the County Commissioners. They even won a grant, which they were able to use a part of, for repairs and saved it again! Not only is it the oldest, but the only single-lane covered bridge in Indiana in its original location.
So, this is where we are today. Somehow, this little old-red-bridge found off the beaten path, still captures the hearts of those who live here and those who visit as well. It may also capture yours.
Written by Dorothy Babcock
February 17, 2021
Sign sponsored by Faith Walk
Current picture taken January 25, 2021
This lovely post card collection belongs to Cathy and David Martin who was kind enough to loan them to PVH for this blog. We hope you enjoy them.