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Bridge work delayed by weather

January 24, 2012

The stripped-down covered bridge near Ceylon (Photo by Jannaya Andrews)

    The covered bridge near Ceylon is no longer covered.
    Work to reconstruct the bridge built in the mid-1860s began in early November. Jutte Excavating of Fort Recovery, Ohio, won the county contract to remove, rebuild and then reposition the bridge.
    Recent high water has slowed work on driving pilings for support in order that the bridge may be taken apart. The wooden structure eventually will be entirely removed, with its pieces strewn about a parking lot at the site.
    The bridge has been deteriorating in recent years and so all wood which has rotted will be replaced and that which is still good will be kept.
    The work on the parking lot can be done in nearly all weather, a county official said. Once everything is back together, two cranes will be bring in to put the bridge back in place.
    The project will cost approximately $450,000 — most of it coming from a grant — and will be completed sometime this year.
     The bridge, erected in 1874, is no longer used for vehicle traffic after being bypassed in 1974.
    It is the last covered span which crossed the Wabash River, the official state river. Over time the river shifted, leaving the structure straddling a back channel, according to historical information. Of the 23 known covered bridges to have once traversed this important river, this is the last still standing.
    Most likely built by the Smith Brothers Company, the single -span Howe Truss structure is 126 feet long, or 140 feet including the 7-foot overhang at each end, with a portal clearance that is 16 feet wide and 13 feet high.
    Now surrounded by a roadside park, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places  in 2006.

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