Medora Covered Bridge

Copyright. Morris Tippin. All Rights Reserved.


The Medora Covered Bridge spans the East Fork of the White River one mile east of Medora, Indiana, on State Road 235.  It was built in 1875 by J. J. Daniels using the Burr (Arch) design at the cost of $18,142 and took nine months to build.  It was covered to protect the wooden structure from the weather.  Before the bridge was built, the river was crossed by ferry.

The original contract calls for the bridge to be built six feet above the known high water level to prevent  damage to the bridge.

It has three intermediate spans (these are sometimes called spans but they only partially span the river) with two piers between the abutments which act as props to add strength and help prevent sagging.  The arches have each have six sections which were single trees  The slab for each section was cut from a single tree.  They would mark the curve of the slab top and bottom, saw to the mark probably with a crosscut or a buck saw, chip out the blocks and finish with a foot adz.  The arch sections were lifted into place, probably with a Gin Pole, which is basically a tripod with a block and tackle.  The arches would settle into skewback stones in the piers and abutments by gravity, then were bolted to the kingposts.

The chords at the bottom and top were hand hewn.  This is probably because they are forty feet long and due to the pressure in the tree it was difficult to saw a section that long and keep it straight.  There is a gap in the chords at the top over the piers for expansion and contraction.

There are doors over the piers on the north side which were probably for access to the piers for inspection and maintenance. 

The outside has been replaced (Old bones new skin!). 

The truss is original with some repairs but no changes in the structure.

The original siding was yellow poplar.  It was replaced during the 2010-2011 rehab with yellow pine.  The original contract called for either poplar or pine.  There are seven original poplar boards at the west end on the north side as one enters the bridge.  These boards have the original square nail holes.

The original roof was cedar shake shingles.  The replacement shingles are also cedar shake.

The purlins (what the shingles are nailed to) have been replaced.

The outriggers (extensions from the king posts) and the girts (what the siding is nailed to) have been replaced.

The rafters are mixed with originals and replacents.

Most of the timber in the bridge is oak and poplar, but the original contract calls for some sycamore. 

The bridge has never had windows and was once called the "dark bridge".  There is a gap between the top of the siding and the roof for lighting and ventilation.

There is parking on both ends of the bridge.  There are picnic tables on the west end with a nice grassy area and enough room to turn an RV around.


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