Source: NMHS Newsletter, February 1991
Covered Bridge Progress Report
The North Manchester Covered Bridge, one of the town’s best
known historical landmarks, is undergoing structural
renovation with special attention to replacement of decayed
and weakened structural members on the underside of the
bridge, new flooring, and reinforcement of the east end.
When repairs are completed the maximum load capacity
of the bridge will increase from three tons to five tons.
A vital link in the town’s highway
system, the bridge was closed in the mid-1980’s but reopened
to traffic more than a year ago at the urging of the
A traffic count made early last fall indicated heavy
traffic on the bridge, and without the bridge this traffic
would be diverted to streets used by school buses and
student pedestrians going to and from the North Manchester
This would create both safety problems and traffic
congestions on the streets leading to the school and at
their intersection with State Road 114.
Interest in preserving the bridge was
especially heightened following the disastrous fire that
nearly destroyed the Roann Covered Bridge.
Though efforts are underway to restore the bridge,
much of it will be a replacement because so much of the
original was consumed in the fire.
The North Manchester Covered Bridge is the only
remaining one in Wabash County with most of the original
The combined concern of the historical
society, county, and town officials resulted in a county
appropriation of $35,000 for repairs.
After work started, decaying beams were discovered
under one end of the bridge, which required an additional
Additional efforts seek to assure the
security of the bridge.
Interior lighting of the bridge is adequate, but
lighting at the approaches is being increased, and the
feasibility of installing a security system is also being
The bridge was built in 1872 by the
Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio, for $3,515, exclusive
of stonework on abutments.
The entire structure is built of wood, put together
with pins, iron bolts and square cut nails.
It is a single span over the river with no center
the Indiana Sesquicentennial in 1966, the bridge was
extensively repaired with steel pylons near the west end,
new flooring, and general renovation.
Our society monitors the bridge,
marshalling resources to assure its preservation.
It is listed on the National Register of Historic
Places and is a major artifact in the town’s outdoor museum.
With continued vigilance the bridge will stand for
many more generations as a reminder of how our ancestors
lived. That is,
after all, what our historical society is for.
Research Note: According to the
write-ups by Ron Branson at
THE NORTH MANCHESTER COVERED BRIDGE
Actually, there have been 3 covered bridges
built on this stretch of Sycamore Street, where it
intersects South Mill Street , crossing the Eel River in
Section 5, Township 29 North, and Range 7 East, on the
southeast edge of North Manchester, Wabash County.
The first North Manchester Covered Bridge,
built in about 1850 and lost in 1857, was listed in the
World Guide as #14-85-19 (according to G. Gould's 1977
list), while the second Manchester Covered Bridge, built in
about 1860 and lost in 1872, was listed in the World Guide
as 14-85-20 (also according to G. Gould's 1977 list).
The current North Manchester Covered Bridge
is a single span Smith #4 Patented Truss structure with a
length of 150 feet, or 174 feet including the 12-foot
overhang at each end, is 18 feet wide and 12 feet high.
Built in 1872 by the Smith Bridge Company, the structure
cost $3515, not including the expense of the abutments. Old
images of this bridge show a walkway attached to the north
side of the structure, which has been removed and, because
of the bridges extreme width (it is the widest Covered
Bridge in Indiana), has been moved inside the main
structure. Though no historical marker is present, the
current North Manchester Covered Bridge was listed in the
National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and is listed
in the 1989 World Guide as 14-85-02.
THE LAKETON COVERED BRIDGE
Actually, there were 2 structures known
as the Laketon Covered Bridge, neither of which is now
standing. Both structures were built on the same site and
crossed the Eel River in Sections 10/15, Township 29 North,
and Range 6 East, Wabash County.
Although the builder is unknown, the
first Laketon Covered was constructed in about 1858 and lost
in 1874. The first Laketon Covered Bridge was listed as
#14-85-14 in the World Guide (according to G. Gould's 1977
The second Laketon Covered Bridge was a
Smith Truss structure having a length of 165 feet, or 189
feet including the 12-foot overhang at each end, was 16 feet
wide and 14 feet high. Built by the Smith Bridge Company in
1875 the second Laketon Covered Bridge was listed as
#14-85-15 in the World Guide (according to G. Gould's 1977
list) and lost in 1957.
THE LIBERTY MILLS COVERED BRIDGE
Actually, there were 3 structures known
as the Liberty Mills Covered Bridge, none of which are
standing. The all three were built on the same site and
originally crossed the Eel River in Section 22, Township 30
North, and Range 7 East, Wabash County.
The first Liberty Mills Covered was
built in 1859, listed as #14-85-16 in the World Guide
(according to G. Gould's 1977 list) and was lost in about
The second Liberty Mills Covered Bridge
was built in 1867 under the supervision of J. Comstock and
had a length of 175 feet, or 193 feet including the 10-foot
overhang at each end. The second Liberty Mills Covered
Bridge was listed as #14-85-17 in the World Guide (according
to G. Gould's 1977 list) and lost in about 1872.
The last Liberty Mills Covered Bridge
was a single span Smith Truss structure that was 175 feet
long, or 193 feet including the 9-foot overhang at each end,
with a portal clearance 16 feet wide by 16 feet high. Built
by the Smith Bridge Company in 1872, the third Liberty Mills
Covered Bridge was listed as #14-85-18 in the World Guide
(according to G. Gould's 1977 list) and lost in 1953.