Near Cloverdale in Owen County, Indiana — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Cataract Covered Bridge
The Covered Bridge Story
Covered bridges have been built around the world for centuries. With America’s rapid expansion and abundant timber supply, covered bridges were built at an unsurpassed rate. Covering a bridge protects the wooden trusses from rotting. Without a roof, a bridge might last only four years.
The first known covered bridge in Indiana was in Henry County in 1834. By the 1880s Indiana had between 400-500 covered bridges.
In 1876, the community of Cataract includes mills and shops. The bridge linked Cataract with residents on the other side of Mill Creek.
The Smith Truss
The late 1800s represented a time when manufacturing was moving from individually made items to mass production. The Smith Bridge Company introduced new techniques for covered bridge construction to compete with iron bridges that appeared after the Civil War. Rather than build covered bridges from scratch on site, Ohio Native Robert W. Smith built the Smith Truss in the company’s factory in Toledo, disassembled it and shipped it out for reassembly.
Weathering a Torrent
In 1875, a flood destroyed the first covered bridge at Cataract and more than a dozen bridges in Owen County. One of the few bridges to survive the flood was the covered bridge at Gosport. The Gosport Covered Bridge used a Smith Truss.
One month later, when Owen County let bids for a replacement bridge, their advertisement requested a Smith Truss. The current bridge with its Smith Truss was completed in 1876.
Restoration of the Cataract Covered Bridge
Extensive rehabilitation has been conducted to preserve the bridge. Restoration included:
- rebuilding the wingwalls
- repairing abutment
- replacing and repairing truss timbers and lateral braces
- redoing trim, siding and historical details
Bridge Vital Statistics:
- Built: 1876
- Length of Wood Structure: 148 feet
- Cost to Building: Abutments, $1678.84; Bridge, $2009.00
- Materials Used: Limestone and non-native white pine
- Biggest Timbers: 33 ½ feet long
- Weight of cut stones: 4000 pounds each
- Closed to vehicular traffic: 1988
Erected by Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Location. Touch for map. Marker and covered bridge are located in Cataract Falls unit of the Lieber State Recreation Area; the above directions are to the main entrance to the Cataract Falls unit. Marker is in this post office area: Poland IN 47868, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 11 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Cataract Falls Covered Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Cataract Falls (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Ten O'Clock Line (approx. 9˝ miles away); Camp Hughes (approx. 9˝ miles away); Ferry Bridge (approx. 10.1 miles away); Owen County (Indiana) War Memorial (approx. 10.6 miles away); Owen County War Memorial (approx. 10.6 miles away); Owen County Courthouse (approx. 10.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cloverdale.
Categories. • Bridges & Viaducts • Industry & Commerce •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 4, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas. This page has been viewed 339 times since then and 10 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. submitted on June 4, 2014, by Duane Hall of Abilene, Texas.