Shieldstown Covered Bridge project completed


Jackson County is now home to two restored historic covered bridges for residents and visitors to see.

At long last, the Shieldstown Covered Bridge renovation received final approval and is now open to the public.

Commissioners signed off on the $1,063,837.65 restoration project during a regular monthly meeting Tuesday. It was paid for through a grant where the county was responsible for 20% of the cost and the Federal Highway Administration covered the rest.

Completion of the project is the end of a tense and turbulent relationship between local and state officials and contractor Duncan Robertson, spawned by constant delays and inadequate materials.

The restoration was originally projected to be completed in July 2016, but delays, materials and work that was not to the satisfaction of local and state officials caused it to be pushed back.

The latest delay came in late spring when county officials found 11 leaks in the roof, asphalt issues on both entrances of the bridge and other issues.

The 355-foot-long Burr arch truss wooden bridge, built by Joseph J. Daniels in 1876, carried vehicular traffic across the East Fork White River until 1980. The bridge is just off of County Road 200N in Hamilton Township.

Daniels also built the Medora Covered Bridge in Carr Township. That renovation was completed in 2011.

Commissioner Bob Gillaspy, who has represented the county during the project since he was elected in 2016, made the motion to approve the final paperwork.

"This is going to be a great thing," he said after the meeting.

Gillaspy said he considered it his "pet project" since being elected, and while the work was sometimes frustrating, it also is rewarding to know it is finally done.

“Historic preservation is really important, and I think being a builder myself, I took an interest in it,” he said. “I think I could build a bridge now.”

A ribbon cutting to formally open the bridge will be at 3 p.m. Oct. 29 and will include a visit from state Senator Eric Koch.

Arann Banks, executive director of the Jackson County Visitor Center, said having the Shieldstown Covered Bridge restored will help bolster tourism. She said the Medora Covered Bridge, which is estimated to attract 20,000 visitors per year, is one of the county’s biggest draws for tourism.

Adding the Shieldstown Covered Bridge will only draw more, she said.

"It really complements our historic landscape," Banks said. "It’s exciting that the project is completed and will be available to residents and tourists alike."

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Ribbon cutting for the Shieldstown Covered Bridge

When: 3 p.m. Oct. 29

Where: Just off County Road 200N in Hamilton Township

State Senator Eric Koch is planning to attend.


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