Howard W. Hewitt – Bridgeton, Ind. – Wabash College had a very small hand in the restoration of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge. But the Wabash students will be remembered along with hundreds of other volunteers who made Monday’s events possible.
The bridge was destroyed by arson April 28, 2005. The community, an army of volunteers, and two industrial sized cranes put the bridge back in place Monday morning. See photos from Monday here.
Wabash’s involvement started with the Present Indiana Summer Internship Program. John Meara ’07 selected the Parke County bridges for his summer project. A natural extension of his research became a work day. More than 20 students went to Bridgeton June 1 to volunteer. Those men spent the day stacking lumber.
Approximately 25 students returned Aug. 22 and cleaned the construction area and stained the wooden panels which will become the sides of the covered bridge.
There were no Wabash students present for Monday’s big event. Classes are underway on campus and the day in Bridgeton started around 9 a.m. But the students who went down Aug. 22 expressed an appreciation for the history and social significance, not to mention economic impact, of the covered bridges.
The school children present Monday were the first to let out a thunderous cheer when the first section of the bridge was set in place.
“Hopefully these kids will assume responsibility,” said elementary school teacher Susie Runyon. “Hopefully they’ll assume responsibility for preservation of landmarks like our bridges.”
You can read all of Runyon’s comments and thoughts from mill owner Mike Roe in a Wabash College press release. Just click here.
The Wabash contingent was small, just one Public Affairs representative. But there are at least 50 Wabash men who can take pride in lending a hand to a project of historic significance. The newest, historically accurate, covered bridge in America is rising in Parke County.
As for the rest of the Wabash Community, it should share in the pride that has helped restore something no arsonist can destroy – community pride.