Monday, July 16, 2012

Celebration In Ceylon

Ceylon Covered Bridge as seen in 2010, notice the supports underneath.

When I saw the Ceylon Bridge in late 2010, I realized that the span would need to be rehabilitated in the near future to ensure it's existence for another century and beyond. At first glance the bridge didn't look that bad, but a closer look underneath revealed a different story. Cribbing and other supports had been installed to support a sagging lower chord and floor system. I would learn shortly after that plans were already in the works to restore the bridge, and just over a year later that work would begin. So when I made a return visit Saturday to see a community celebrate the restoration of it's iconic piece of history, I saw a bridge ready to survive for generations to come.

Originally referred to as the Baker Bridge and constructed in 1879, it replaced another smaller pony type span that was built in 1860. The earlier structure was likely not sturdy enough to withstand the floods on the Wabash. Yes, the Ceylon Covered Bridge has the distinction of being the last covered bridge standing to have spanned the iconic state river of Indiana. I say that in past tense only because many years back the river decided to change course and left the bridge spanning an often dry depression. The new bridge sits a few hundred feet to the East and the old one sits in a roadside park. Only when the Wabash floods does this back-channel see a significant amount of water. In this years drought it sits over a mere puddle or two at best. A future endeavor might include finding a way to introduce water under the bridge on a year-round basis.

Despite it's High-and-dry status, It is still a wonderful sight to see the lone survivor of the Wabash standing proud!


  1. Tony -

    Any shots of the workmanship, or maybe the Bottom Chord Scarfs you'd care to share?

    -- Will

  2. Sorry Will... There was a dinner on the bridge and I wasn't able to get any interior shots. I do know that they replaced the entire lower chords, but from my quick look underneath it appears to be in-kind.

  3. Thanks for the information on the Ceylon bridge. I have an old photo from 1974, with my Mom, Dad, and a Gr. Uncle standing in front of this bridge. I searched on google earth for it and the bridge was gone and looked demolished, and that was kind of what I was expecting. That photo was 40 years ago. Then I find out the image the satellite had was taken while they were restoring the bridge. haha! Now the photo I have has a sign above the entrance and it reads "On The Banks Of The Wabash 1862" I was wondering why does the sign on it now reads 1860?

    1. Sorry I'm just now seeing your comment James! There has been an ongoing battle over the construction date of this landmark. Dr. James Cooper, who is a renowned historian in Indiana did extensive research into this bridge, which is historically known as the Baker Bridge, and found that it was actually built in 1879. I feel confident with his findings!