This beautiful Kennedy Brothers bridge started its life in 1885 by spanning Little Blue River northeast of Shelbyville, Indiana. In 1975, instead of demolishing the bridge to make way for a modern bridge, Cedar Ford was relocated to the Shelby County Fairgrounds.
The bridge remained at the fairgrounds for several years and was a great addition to the historic fairgrounds. However, someone raised a liability issue, and unfortunately the fair had the bridge dismantled, sold it to a private individual and then it was stored unprotected for years. So much for “historic” Shelby County Fairgrounds.
A Monroe County, Indiana engineer named Jim Barker got ahold of the useable parts and incorporated them into the design of the fully authentic covered bridge. According to Bridge Hunter website the bridge was reconstructed at “the site of the Millikan/Milligan/McMillan/Williams Covered Bridge that was destroyed by an arson fire in 1976. Remnants of the original abutments of that bridge can be seen just West of the current bridge. Although that bridge wasn’t a Kennedy built span, there were at least two of them that once existed in Monroe County.”
This reconstruction took place in 2019 with as many of the original members as were structurally sound. New materials were faithfully reproduced when required to finish the structure. This bridge is a Kennedy Brothers Burr-arch truss design typical of Kennedy bridges in Indiana. It spans Bean Blossom Creek on Old Maple Grove Road north of Bloomington.
The smell of freshly sawn lumber is perhaps the most remarkable feature of this marvelous rebuild. That’s right, when we walked across the deck of the 127 foot long span, you could clearly smell the clean scent of newly sawn lumber. You can’t help but realize that that fragrance is what the first users of the bridges encountered as they crossed the first time.