(Norris Ford Covered Bridge, photo by Paul McClure on Flickr)
Locals call them the Cadillacs of covered bridges. Painted white, with brackets at the roofline and decorative scrollwork near the entry, the clapboard spans built by the Kennedy family in the late 1800s and early 1900s offer sturdy paths across waterways and picturesque hallmarks of Rush County.
The Kennedy family holds status as one of the state’s three most prolific bridge-building firms, in the same rarified circle with J.J. Daniels and J.A. Britton and his sons. Yet, of the 58 bridges credited to A.M. Kennedy, his sons, and grandsons, only a handful remain, with six located in Rush County where the family lived.
In the ‘90s, when Rush County officials proposed razing four of the Kennedy bridges, local preservationists used a festival near the Moscow Covered Bridge to rally support for the spans. The group, now known as Rush County Heritage Inc., prevailed, with the bridge preservation issue a deciding factor in the county commissioner election.
(Smith Covered Bridge, photo by Paul McClure on Flickr)
In 2008, the Moscow Covered Bridge again faced extinction after a tornado sent the span crashing into the Flatrock River. Just days after the event, the Rush County Commissioners voted to rebuild the 1886 bridge, an effort that drew statewide publicity and support. Rebuilt with 40 percent of the original timbers by Dan R. Collom & Sons, the Moscow Covered Bridge reopened in 2010, replicating the distinctive Kennedy look.
(Reopening of Moscow Covered Bridge, photo by Marsh Davis)
See the bridges for yourself during RushFest on September 21, 2013, when the Rush County Chamber of Commerce presents its Rush County Covered Bridge Poker Run, including a driving tour through the Kennedy-designed Smith, Norris Ford, Offutt Ford, Forsythe and Moscow covered bridges.
About Hidden Gems Indiana
Each week Indiana Landmarks uses insider knowledge to highlight historic places worth a visit, from the quirky to the sublime: small towns, neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, parks, cemeteries, scenic drives, museums -- you get the idea. Learn more about Indiana Landmarks at www.indianalandmarks.org.