Reward offered for information on Medora Covered Bridge damage


A reward of at least $200 is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of those who recently vandalized the Medora Covered Bridge.

Nick Walden is offering the reward and is collecting donations to increase the amount. Walden is a member of Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge, but that group is not involved with the reward, he said.

He said Wednesday others have told him they planned to add to the reward.

Walden said the most recent incident occurred around Dec. 30 and includes about a half dozen spots of graffiti.

The graffiti is on one of the western-facing entrance panels, multiple areas of the floor, inside walls and more. The paint includes initials, the numbers “812” and signs.

The number of incidents involving graffiti has increased over the last few months at the bridge, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. A $1.3 million restoration project was completed in 2011.

Walden said he thinks it will be difficult to get a conviction despite a public effort to find whoever is responsible for the vandalism.

“That’s the hard part, but that’s what needs to be done because someone needs to be made an example of it,” he said. “I think they should have to help make the repairs.”

The county will have to take care of the damage, Walden said. He said entrance will require sanding and repainting. Walden has reported it to the Jackson County Highway Department, which handles repairs to the county’s bridges.

Walden gives tours of the bridge, and his artwork featuring the bridge routinely benefits the Friends group. That’s why he was heartbroken when he saw the graffiti.

He said he wishes the public would value the county’s historic sites more.

“I wish people had more respect for the historic places we have around here and the tourism it brings,” he said.

The bridge — constructed by J.J. Daniels in 1875 — is one of the county’s biggest attractions, drawing about 20,000 visitors annually. Visitors from all 50 states and many countries around the world have visited it.

It’s touted as the longest historic covered bridge in the country, spanning 430 feet over the East Fork White River along State Road 235. Its length is about 406 feet.

Walden said vandalism has long been a problem for the bridge. Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge has for years put forth an effort to raise enough money for a security camera system. It’s one of the reasons for its annual dinner on the bridge each August.

That project is expensive, coming at an estimated cost of $30,000. While that may seem high, much of the cost is to get electricity to the bridge, Walden said. The area has no security equipment.

“It’s basically a free-for-all out there right now,” Walden said. “We are here to protect it, but we can’t be out here 24 hours a day.”

Anyone with information should call police at 812-358-2141.

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