Conleys Ford Covered Bridge (#7)
Builder: J. Lawrence Van Fossen
Creek: Big Raccoon Creek
Location: Located between Mansfield and Bridgeton, 2 miles southwest of Mansfield.
Reference Code: #7, 14-61-02, 12-61-02, ba, Raccoon 13-14N—7W
Size: 192 ft long, +10’ +10’, 16 ft wide, 13’ clearance
Truss: Double Burr Arch 1 Span
Repair/Restoration History: Resided and reroofed in 1991.
Bridge History: This bridge was built of white pine. Most Parke County bridges were predominantly built of poplar. It has been claimed as the fourth longest single span covered bridge in the world.
J. Lawrence Van Fossen built the Conley’s Ford Bridge the same year that his brother, Jefferson P. Van Fossen, built the Adam’s Bridge. Jefferson P. Van Fossen later built the Jessup Bridge, in 1910 and was the contractor for the second Roseville Bridge, that same year.
J. Lawrence Van Fossen constructed the abutments for the Billie Creek Bridge, in 1895. He transported the stone from the nearby quarry.
The Van Fossens worked for the Parke County Road Department. The Van Fossens worked closely with Joseph J. Daniels who built the Roseville, and Billie Creek bridges.
All of their bridges have the "Daniel’s Arch" and the Daniel’s construction style.
In 1991, the "Daniels Portals" have been changed to "Britton Portals," and the 1906-07 date reduced to 1907. It has a corrugated galvanized steel roof and has been completely resided and painted.
Earlier portal lettering included commissioners, auditors, treasurer, and builder. Legible portions of old photographs include Bradfield, Grubb and Baxted(?), Commissioners, A. Pickett, Engineer.
The phrase "Cross This Bridge At A Walk" refers to the speed and gait of a horse. The rhythmic running of a horse can set up destructive vibrations in a bridge. The sign does not require the automobile, wagon, or bicycle rider to dismount and walk across the bridge.