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The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival™ on October 13th-22nd, 2017

Beeson Covered Bridge (#38)

Beeson Covered Bridge (#38)

Built: 1906, moved 1979
Builder: Frankfort Construction Co., moved by Buchta Trucking
Creek: Big Raccoon, moved to Williams Creek
Location: Originally located 1 mile northwest of Marshall on County Road 216. Moved to Billie Creek Village on US 36.
Reference Code: 14-61-24. 12-61-27, nw, Washington 5.4-16N—7W moved to Adams 8-15N--7W
Size: 55 ft long, 16 ft wide. 12'6" clearance
Truss: Burr Arch 1 span
Foundation: Concrete, moved to concrete, reset on creosoted wood
Original Cost: moving cost $20,000

Repair/Restoration History: Closed in 1974. Damaged by arson fires August 9, 1979 and August 15, 1979. Moved by flood 1989. Repainted 1990.

Bridge History: The Beeson Covered Bridge could have been called the Marshall Covered Bridge since it was located closest to that city. However, another bridge had been called Marshall even though it was across the county and had no relation to the town. This bridge was located near land now owned by the Beeson family for over a hundred years. William H Beeson, born in 1879 owned 53 acres by the bridge in 1920. The Beeson log cabin, built in 1835 was located nearby. The Beeson Cabin was moved to Billie Creek Village in 1969 and preserved. The Beeson Covered Bridge was also moved back into proximity to the cabin eleven years later.In 1969 the Beeson Bridge was closed after the abutments were declared unsafe This also closed a major route to Turkey Run High School and State Park as well as to emergency equipment.Another nearby concrete county bridge collapsed in March 1979, further blocking access in and out of Marshall and the school and park The Roaring Creek Citizens Association (RCCA) was organized to correct the road blockages caused by the damaged bridges.

The association announced at a meeting at Turkey Run High School on August 9. 1979, that they had secured two million dollars to remove and replace the Beeson Bridge. The funding included 80% from the federal government. 20% from the county and a commitment from the US Army to use helicopters to remove the covered bridge. Steve DePlanty, president of the RCCA said they had received no cooperation from Parke County Incorporated, which had passed up two previous opportunities to remove the bridge.

At 11:47 P.M. August 9, 1947 after the meeting, a fire was reported at the Beeson Bridge. The Marshall Fire Department fought the fire from the south while the Bloomingdale Fire Department fought it from the north. The fire was clearly a case of arson, with a smell of fuel oil still present the following day. It was investigated by the County Sheriff. State Police and State Fire Marshall Departments, and as a registered national land mark, the FBI may have also had jurisdictionThe RCCA denied any connection to the fire. DePlanty felt that someone had taken advantage of the meeting and threatened legal action against those claiming the RCCA was responsible for the fire.

A second arson attempt was made on the bridge on Wednesday August 15, 1979, shortly after midnight Bill Connerly, who lived nearby, saw someone at the bridge, heard someone turn around in his driveway, later saw flames, and reported the fire. The Marshall Fire Department arrived to find the floor covered with flames that were starting up the wails. Nevertheless, they were able to quickly extinguish them.

Buchta Trucking began moving the Beeson Bridge on December 4, 1979. They removed the roofing and siding before transporting the bridge. The covered bridge replaced the entrance footbridge at Billie Creek Village. The $20,000-$38,000 cost was shared between Billie Creek Village and Parke County Incorporated.