The Boshears family: (l-r) Karey, Charles, 11, Jeremy, Jeremiah, 12, and Mason, 11. Photo by Mike Waddell

BY BARB BERGGOETZ

Jeremy Boshears’ journey to bring Monroe County’s 13 former covered bridges to life in a coffee table book started with a small black-and-white photo of the long-gone Church Bridge given to him by a friend.

At first, his quest was born out of sheer curiosity. The Monroe County native is a history and railroad buff. Five generations of his family have lived in the Unionville area, where he resides with his wife, Karey, who home-schools their sons Jeremiah, 12, Mason, 11, and Charles, 9. Part of Boshears’ interest was to encourage his sons to learn about the once-picturesque bridges that dotted the county’s landscape from 1870 until the last one burned down in 1976.

“I didn’t intend to write a book when I started this. It was just for fun,” Boshears, 43, recalls. “But the more I started looking in to it, the more interested I got.”

As his interest grew, Boshears talked to everyone he knew about the long-lost bridges. In return, he heard stories and received old photographs. “People remember swimming underneath them,” Boshears says. “One person told me about having barn dances in the Johnson Bridge.”

All of this started back in 2009. Now, Boshears, who works as a mechanical instrument services manager for the Indiana University Department of Chemistry, is finishing a book on Monroe County’s covered bridges, which will be published by IU Press next spring.

Boshears’ path to publishing his first book has been painstaking. He studied 10 books of Monroe County Commissioners records to learn about the construction and destruction of county bridges. He collected 300 photos, photographed former bridge sites, and compiled a huge notebook. He and his sons went bridge hunting. On one hunt they found steel bolts and a timber piece from McMillan Bridge.

To Boshears, the eff ort has been worthwhile. “I like to share my knowledge and teach people about history,” he says. “People don’t realize what we had here.”

Individuals with photos or information about Monroe County’s covered bridges are encouraged to contact Boshears at [email protected]

Monroe County Covered Bridges:

• Church Bridge, 102 feet long, 1876-1952

• Cutright Bridge, 144 feet long, 1880-1963

• Dolan Bridge, 100 feet long, 1878-1927

• Fairfax Bridge, 125 feet long, 1879-1963

• Goodman Bridge, 100 feet long, 1881-1964

• Gosport Bridge, 504 feet long, 1870-1955

• Harrodsburg Bridge, 82 feet long, 1874-1949

• Johnson Bridge, 100 feet long, 1881-1964

• Judah Bridge, 120 feet long, 1884-1947

• McMillan Bridge, 115 feet long, 1871-1976

• Mount Tabor Bridge, length & year built unknown, 1876

• Muddy Fork Bridge, 36-40 feet long, 1873-1890

• Nancy Jane Bridge, 160 feet long, 1884-1964

Click through the gallery below, using the arrows to navigate forward or backward, to see old photos of some of the covered bridges that will be included in Boshears’ book.