Parke County, Indiana
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Sim Smith Covered Bridge (#23)


Built: 1883
Builder: Joseph A. Britton
Creek: Leatherwood Creek
Location: Located 2 miles southeast of Montezuma, or 6 miles west of Rockville.
Reference Code: #23, 14-61-14, 12-61-15, eg, Wabash 5-15N—8W
Size: 84 ft long +9’ +9’, 16 ft wide, 14’ clearance
Truss: Burr Arch 1 span
Foundation: Red sandstone
Original Cost: $3,200

Repair/Restoration History: Alternate route open in 1930’s. Roof replaced in 1989.

Bridge History: Also known as "Leatherwood Ford"

The Parke County Commissioners requested that Joseph J. Daniels prepare plans and estimates for a covered bridge at Leatherwood Ford. J.J. Daniels estimated the cost $3,801.

When bids were solicited, four iron bridge companies submitted bids in addition to J.A. Britton and J.J. Daniels: Wrought Iron Bridge Co. Canton Ohio - $17.95 per timber foot; Indianapolis Bridge Co. - $17.00 per timber foot; King Bridge Co. - $16.48 per timber foot; South Bridge Co. - $16.65 per timber foot; J.J. Daniels - $3,500.00 complete; J.A. Britton - $1,700.00 superstructure, $1,500 stonework. The contract was awarded to J.A. Britton for $3,200.

This was J.A. Britton’s third Parke County Bridge. The first, at Billie Creek, was probably an open bridge. He built the Narrows Covered Bridge, in 1882. The craftsmanship at the top of the arch of the Narrows Bridge has been remarked upon as primitive as compared to those of J.J. Daniels. The arch of the Sim Smith bridge is clearly composed of incompletely cut segments. In later bridges J.A. Britton’s craftsmanship and attention to detail exceeded that of J.J. Daniels, possibly as compensation for these early bridges. This bridge has a reputation for being haunted. In one story from 1890 many have waited on one side of the bridge for the horse and buggy they hear approaching from the other side. It never appears, even though they leave the buggy to look for it. In another story two husky high school students investigated the story at night after a school play rehearsal. At first they found nothing more than a glow worm. Then on the other side they both saw an Indian carrying a papoose. She was about 8 feet tall. They ran to their car but when they roared through the bridge in the car she was gone.

The Sim Smith Bridge was named for a nearby landowner, Simeon Smith. He lived in the county from 1885. The Smith family has retained the same property through 1990. The now abandoned B&O Railroad branch ran through the Sim Smith property and near the bridge.

The Sim Smith Bridge has one "Britton Portal" and one "Daniels Portal". Joseph A. Britton originally built it with his trademark openings, but the North end was modified into the "Daniels arched portal" in a later repair.

This bridge was on the Pikes Peak route along with Billie Creek, Howard, and Hollandsburg. When US 36 was surveyed in the 1920’s the Sim Smith Bridge was saved by the rerouting of the highway. It is still in use.


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