West Union Covered Bridge (#26)
Builder: Joseph J. Daniels
Creek: Sugar Creek
Location: Located north of West Union.
Reference Code: #26, 14-61 -27, 12-61 -30, pr, Reserve 6-16N—8W
Size: 315 ft long +10’ +17’, 17 ft wide, 14’6
Truss: Double Burr Arch, 2 spans
Foundation: Hewn stone
Original Cost: $16,125 or $8,900
Repair/Restoration History: Third covered bridge at this site. Star Mills and Harrison Bridges preceded. After the flood of 1913, the abutments were damaged and required $7,000 for repair. New south approach of poured concrete was constructed in 1931. Bypassed in 1964. Abutments were repaired to protect new bridge for $223,367 +$5,000.
Bridge History: The West Union Bridge was constructed following damages to the Harrison Bridge in 1876. The Harrison Bridge may have still been standing while the West Union Bridge was constructed. The Parke County Commissioners expressed their faith in Joseph J. Daniels in contracting with him to build a third bridge at this site. The West Union Bridge was completed in September, 1876.
The West Union Bridge is the longest remaining Parke County Covered Bridge. (The Clinton Bridge, was 730 feet long.)
More water passes under this bridge near the mouth of Sugar Creek than any of the other remaining covered bridges. Earlier, narrower abutments were damaged in 1866 and 1875. The West Union Bridge is longer than the two preceding bridges but the newer abutments were also damaged and repaired in 1913 and 1931.
The West Union Bridge and its predecessors were used for stage coach traffic to Lafayette, as was the Armiesburg Bridge. They were on the route of the "Indiana State Highway", which was established by the Legislature in 1827 and was to extend from Fort Wayne to Terre Haute.
The Wabash and Erie Canal was east of this bridge. There were two or more connections with Sugar Creek to allow access to upstream shipping sources which include Rockport. There are other references to a canal aqueduct which may have been used for pedestrian traffic during high water after the canal was abandoned. The B&O Railroad crossed the Lafayette Road just south of the West Union Bridge and crossed Sugar Creek east of the bridge.
The West Union Bridge has a noticeable arch consistent with the Burr Arches. Other covered bridges were built with this arch, which settled straight when weight was applied. The south portal has a Daniels Arch, while the north portal is now squared off. The roof is brown painted metal.