Two boys play in an unusually calm Lake Michigan on a hot summer morning. Throwing stones into the lake, skipping rocks, and hunting for fossils were the top activities of the morning.
Two of the most popular beaches have been closed this summer - Mt. Baldy (closed to the public since 2013), and Central Beach (closed since July). This puts a lot of pressure on the few beaches left - visitors must arrive before 10 am for a chance at a parking space. The beaches themselves do not seem overcrowded, since there is little parking available.
With any luck, the two beaches will reopen next year, allowing visitors to walk once again on the sands of Lake Michigan next to the wooded sand dunes.
Posted by Tom Gill at Tuesday, August 25, 2015
The 65 foot long Harry Evans Covered Bridge spans the small Rock Run Creek 1/2 mile from the town of Coxville. This bridge is still open to vehicular traffic on this out-of-the-way gravel road, but a concrete ford built just downstream allows larger farm vehicles to cross the creek.
Built in 1908 using a single span Burr Arch design, the bridge gets its name from the farmer who owned the land near the bridge at the time.
This covered bridge was in the most peaceful area of all the bridges we visited. So remote and quiet, we could have spent hours with our feet in the creek and probably would not have seen another person.
Posted by Tom Gill at Wednesday, August 19, 2015
A jetskier enjoys the waters of Lake Michigan - just off Monroe Harbor- on a hot summer afternoon. One of the best places to view the Chicago skyline if you're a land lubber is from Solidarity Drive and the breakwater around the Adler Planitarium. The skyline is clearly visible, behind Grant Park, and the lakefront trail, with Monroe Harbor in the foreground- an all around great combination. It's best to arrive early in the day when the buildings are washed with sunshine, or after sunset when they are illuminated. Anytime near sunset the buildings will be in shadow because the sun sets behind them.
Many years ago, I used to walk out on the Easterly Breakwater to view the city, but the last few times I've tried to access it, it's been closed.
Posted by Tom Gill at Tuesday, August 18, 2015
A dark summer night in rural LaPorte County, Indiana presented a great opportunity to view the Milky Way Galaxy. The crescent moon hadn't risen yet, so the sky was very dark - except for the light pollution from big cities many miles away.
While gazing up at the stars, we noticed a meteor or two traverse across the sky, so I was hoping my camera captured one or two. I used exposures from 10 seconds to 20 seconds, and in the photo above, found four meteors, one very difficult to see unless zoomed in.
At first, I thought the light streaking at the bottom left was an airplane, but in a 20 second exposure, the light would have appeared like a zipper, with dots every second as the plane's lights flashed.
I remember staring up at the sky on a warm summer night as a high school kid, in a rowboat in the middle of a small lake, and viewing the Milky Way. Shading my eyes from the lights on the shore, and letting them adjust to the darkness. It seemed the longer I looked up, the more stars I saw. I was able to experience that same feeling again last night.
Posted by Tom Gill at Sunday, August 16, 2015
Spanning Big Raccoon Creek since 1873, the 150 foot long Mecca Covered Bridge is a historical centerpiece of the small town of Mecca, Indiana. Once called Maidstone, the town may have been renamed after a group of Syrian Muslims settled the area and frequented the mill on Big Raccoon Creek. The bridge is no longer open to traffic, US 41 passes a short distance away from the town, but the residents adore their covered bridge. The bridge is decorated for Christmas, and caroling takes place inside. At Easter, a sunrise service is held in the bridge. We noticed old electric lights inside the bridge - no doubt easily added due to the proximity of "modern" electric lines so close to the bridge. The bridge contained a single window allowing people crossing the bridge to view oncoming traffic on the curving road ahead. A small park including an old schoolhouse are on the grounds, making this covered bridge easily accessible for drivers who wish to stop and explore the bridge without blocking traffic.
Posted by Tom Gill at Friday, August 14, 2015
This 263 foot long covered bridge is the third bridge built across Big Raccoon Creek at this site. In 1910, the previous bridge burned and a concrete bridge was considered as a replacement. Instead, the Roseville covered bridge was constructed, and remains today. Not far away in Armiesburg, a concrete bridge was built in 1917 to replace the wooden covered bridge, it collapsed after only 13 years! The Roseville covered bridge uses two Burr Arch spans to cross the creek, and has a cut sandstone foundation. It's set on a gravel road, in an out of the way portion of Parke County, and only a block away from a very small cafe and bakery, very easy to miss while driving on adjacent Coxville Road. The local people seem to care for this bridge - an assortment of colorful flowers grows near the entrance.
Posted by Tom Gill at Thursday, August 13, 2015
Indiana's most famous covered bridge, is the 267 foot long, double span Burr Arch bridge in the historic town of Bridgeton. Adjacent to the old Bridgeton Grist Mill, the original bridge was built by J. Daniels in 1868. Destroyed by arson in 2005, the community gathered to rebuild the bridge using the original plans and traditional materials and methods. The current bridge was completed in 2006. The bridge spans Big Raccoon Creek at the dam constructed for the mill. The flow of water over the nine foot tall, 220 foot wide dam is usually contained to only a portion of the dam, but in high water situations such as in the photo above, the water cascades over the entire structure. The oldest operating grist mill in Indiana, and possible the entire region, Bridgeton Mill has operated in some way for the past 180 years - from milling wood to grinding grain. Open today for demonstrations, visitors can watch as grain is milled to flour using the 2000 pound French Buhr stones, and feel the floor vibrate as the massive stones turn. Certainly one of the most interesting covered bridges in Parke County, Indiana.
Posted by Tom Gill at Tuesday, August 11, 2015
Six miles southeast of Rockville, Indiana, stands the Neet Covered Bridge. Said to be the last covered bridge built by Joseph Daniels (a well known covered bridge contractor) the 126 foot long bridge has spanned Little Raccoon Creek since 1904.
Windows were often built into these structures when the road curved near the bridge. The windows allowed persons crossing to view any traffic approaching the bridge from the road ahead. This explains why windows were often only on one side of the bridge, and sometimes only on one end.
Closed to vehicular traffic today, the Neet Covered Bridge makes the perfect little rest stop when driving or biking this lonely section of Bridgeton Road. While resting, visitors can enjoy the historic bridge and the beautiful views of the countryside.
Posted by Tom Gill at Monday, August 10, 2015
Partially obscured by trees, the 92 foot long Mill Creek Covered Bridge almost becomes part of the surrounding landscape. Still in use on Towpath Road, 2-1/2 miles from Tangier, Indiana, the 1907 structure spans Mill Creek at a point once called Thompson's Ford (a ford is a shallow area of a creek or river which is often used for crossing). This area was very close to the historic Wabash and Erie Canal, hence the name Towpath Road, and a third name for the bridge: Tow Path Bridge.
A small village once existed near this bridge; within it, a flour mill operated for several years. The dam for the mill washed away in 1888, and was never replaced. There are no remains of the village today.
The creek beneath this bridge is quickly eroding the bank, forcing some structural enhancements over the last few years. Nonetheless, the bridge remains open to traffic.
Posted by Tom Gill at Friday, August 07, 2015
Originally built 1n 1906 across Big Raccoon Creek, the Beeson Covered Bridge was rescued and moved to it's current location over Williams Creek. The bridge is no longer open to vehicular traffic, but serves as the entrance to Billie Creek Village, a collection of historical buildings including a general store, log cabin, church, and print shop.
The Beeson bridge is a single Burr Arch spanning 55 feet, constructed of wood on a concrete foundation.Named after the family whose farm was located near the bridge, the Beeson covered bridge was reunited with the family log cabin when it was moved to Billie Creek Village in 1979.
Posted by Tom Gill at Thursday, August 06, 2015
Carrying traffic over Mill Creek, the Bowsher Ford covered bridge celebrates her 100th birthday this year. Built in 1915 by Eugene Britton, the bridge resides on a gravel road about two miles northwest of Tangier, in rural Parke County, Indiana. A single Burr Arch span of 75 feet, this covered bridge differs a bit from most in Parke County, as it has a concrete foundation instead of cut stone.
Named after the Bowsher family who owned the farm near the ford (a shallow spot on the creek used for crossing), The bridge remains in a remote part of the county, surrounded by woods and farms, and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Parke County, Indiana hosts the Covered Bridge Festival, a celebration of the 31 remaining covered bridges throughout the county. The festival begins each year on the second Friday of October, and runs for nine days. What began as a small gathering back in 1956, has grown into a county-wide festival attracting over 2 million visitors to the county each year.
For the other 51 weeks of the year, it seems most of the covered bridges in Parke County remain quiet and isolated in their rural surroundings.
Posted by Tom Gill at Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Spanning Sugar Creek since 1876, the 315 foot long West Union covered bridge is the longest (still standing) covered bridge in Parke County, Indiana.
Located in the west-central portion of the state, just north of Terre Haute, Parke County is known as the "Covered Bridge Capital of the World", 31 Covered bridges remain standing in the County - many are still open to traffic. Compare that to Madison County, Iowa (made famous by the 1995 film The Bridges of Madison County), which only boasts six covered bridges.
The West Union covered bridge was built by Joseph Daniels, and uses double Burr Arch construction - one for each span. The foundation is constructed of stone, the bridge of yellow poplar, and the roof painted steel. The construction cost was between $8,000 and $16,000.
Sugar Creek flows beneath the bridge, and more water passes under this bridge than any other covered bridge in the county. Closed to traffic since the 1960's when 10 O'clock Road bypassed the bridge, pedestrians can enjoy a leisurely walk across the spans while enjoying the quiet, rural setting.
Posted by Tom Gill at Monday, August 03, 2015