Dinner on the Bridge draws nearly 300



The Medora Covered Bridge spans the East Fork White River 1 mile east of Medora.

The bridge also spans a time period of nearly 150 years from the days of the horse and buggy to those of sport utility vehicles and dually pickups.

That’s one of the things that makes the nation’s longest historic covered bridge important to people from all over the state and especially those from southwestern Jackson County, including Peggy Thompson of Medora.

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Thompson, who attended the ninth annual Dinner on the Bridge on Saturday evening, said the bridge has always been a big part of her life.

"I think I’ve been to all of them," she said of the dinner fundraiser sponsored by Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge and Area. "I was born here and raised here until I was in seventh grade and moved to Brownstown. I got married and came back to Medora. It (the bridge) just needs to be here."

Thompson was seated at a table that included Melinda Rebman, the wife of Andy Rebman, president of the Indiana Covered Bridge Society.

Melinda Rebman, who lives in Greenwood, said she and her her family, including daughter Abbi Rebman, have seen a lot of covered bridges over the years.

"We’ve seen every covered bridge in the state of Indiana," she said.

But they never get tired of seeing them, she added.

"We love this bridge because it’s so long and we get to eat on it," she said.

For Nick Walden, who was born and raised in Medora, the bridge is important not just to the people of the Medora area but the county.

"This bridge is amazing," he said. "It’s the longest spanning historic covered bridge in the United States, and it’s in little old Medora, Indiana. That’s something we’ve got to be proud of. It’s something we have to promote. It’s almost like your duty."

J.J. Daniels used the Burr design to build the bridge in nine months’ time in 1875 at a cost of $18,142. The 430.4-foot bridge, closed in 1973, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007, and a restoration project was completed in 2011.

Tony Dillon of New Castle, who attended the dinner with his wife, Sandy, said he has been studying historic bridges since he was 13 or more than 40 years.

Dillon said he has been to all but one of the state’s 91 historic covered bridges and about 300 or 400 historic iron bridges.

He said the Medora Covered Bridge is fantastic.

"I can remember back when I was afraid this bridge was going to collapse," he said. "Back then, you couldn’t have put all these people on here. It would have (collapsed), especially that span (the east span). It’s awesome to see what has been done with this."

Dillon said Morris Tippin with the Friends of the Medora Covered Bridge and Area, who started the Dinner on the Bridge fundraiser more than nine years ago, has done a fantastic job.

"Morris has done so much to just keep this going and bring people from all over to see this bridge," he said.

Dillon said he was impressed the event continues to grow each year.

"It won’t be long and we may have to put people outside (the bridge)," he said.

The concept for the fundraiser is kind of unique, he added.

"There are a lot of other covered bridges that have little festivals, but no Dinner on the Bridge that I know of," Dillon said.

Ladonna’s Country Cookin’ of Salem provided the meal, and The Griffin Family, featuring Donna Griffin and Wes Griffin of Floyds Knobs, provided the music for the second year.

"It’s great," Donna Griffin said. "We believe this is just terrific that there’s community support for something like this."

Scott Thomas of Indianapolis, who attended the event with his family, agreed.

"My grandmother grew up and lived in Medora," he said. "My mom can remember crossing it when she was a kid. She said, ‘You had to pull up and honk, and if somebody else (on the other end) honked, you might have to back half up.’"

Tippin estimated about 280 people attended this year’s dinner.

"It went really well, probably the smoothest yet," he said, a factor he attributed to the volunteers the Friends group can pull together.

Three of the volunteers, Tim Reynolds, his uncle, Marvin Reynolds, and mother, Linda Proffit, belong to the Medora Brick Plant and Historical Sites organization.

Tim Reynolds said the dinner is a big event.

"They just needed a little bit of help last year," he said. "We’re glad to do it, so this is the second year for us to help."

Reynolds said both the bridge and the brick plant are important to the history of the Medora area.

Dinner on the Bridge was started as a way to provide security for the bridge and some general maintenance work, such as keeping the grass mowed, Tippin said.

The security issue will be addressed once electricity is provided to the bridge, which is in the works at this time, he added.

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For information about the Medora Covered Bridge, visit medoracoveredbridge.com


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