Nevins Covered Bridge (#14)
Builder: Joseph A. Britton & Son
Creek: Little Raccoon Creek
Location: Located 1 mile southeast of Catlin and in Raccoon Township.
Reference Code: #14, 14-61-05, 12-61-05, c, Raccoon 5-14N—7W
Size: 155 ft long +7’ +7’, 16 ft wide, 13’ clearance
Truss: Burr Arch 1 span
Original Cost: $11,987
Bridge History: The Nevins Bridge was built at Gilkerson’s Ford near Gilkerson’s Mill. Thomas Gilkerson came from Mercer County, Kentucky, in 1821. He built a mill in 1823. The Gilkerson community was nominated as the county seat in 1824 but lost out to Rockville. He worked the farm with his son, John Calvin Gilkerson, and became quite prosperous until he defaulted on a debt and lost the farm and mill in a sheriff’s sale. Father and son worked hard to recover the property. They regained possession, and John Calvin trained a yoke of cattle to help rebuild the brush dam. They rebuilt the mill in 1837 and added a sash saw sawmill to the grist mill. The burrs required 80 days to shape for use.
The Gilkersons worked as blacksmiths, carpenters, farmers, and millers. A small community was built around their business. From 1839 to 1846 they built several flatboats which were sent down Little Raccoon, Big Raccoon, and the Wabash during spring freshets. John C. Gilkerson was much respected, serving as Justice of the Peace for 33 years and as an elder in the Rockville Presbyterian Church. Thomas Levi Nevins, bom in 1869, purchased the Gilkerson property in 1897. The Nevins Bridge was named for him. He studied the mill and preserved the mill relics. In 1906 he was part owner of the Bloomingdale Mill and in 1910 he built a flour mill in Rosedale on the foundations of an older burned out mill. In 1911, after 18 months of operation, his mill burned down to the foundation. He is also remembered as a teacher at the nearby school at Minshall.
Two builder/contractors bid on this bridge to cross Little Raccoon Creek. Joseph A. Britton and Elmer Gerard each submitted bids. Elmer Gerard won the award for the 1915 Bowsher Ford Bridge but it was built by J.A. Britton’s son, Eugene Britton. J.A. Britton was awarded this contract, but Eugene Britton was probably a major contributor as he might have been had Elmer Gerard won the award. The building of the Nevins Covered Bridge closed an era. This bridge was the last bridge built by Joseph A. Britton. He was 83. He died at age 91. It was also the last of the historical covered bridges built in Parke County.
This bridge has "Daniels Arched Portals" rather than the "Britton Portals" preferred by Joseph and Eugene Britton. It has a wood shingle roof. Rather than the carefully cut connecting keys of earlier bridges, the keys were square cut and reinforced by iron straps, iron rods were used to brace the sides and roof, a feature shared with the Portland Mills Bridge.