We parked the Bighorn for the night at the Elks Lodge in Rockville, a very small town in Indiana. To our surprise we discovered that Rockville is best known for being the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World.” There are 31 covered bridges in Parke County. Every fall, except for 2020, the county hosts a Covered Bridge Festival that lasts for 10 days. Over two million people come annually to see the bridges.
Established in 1824, this town is the country seat. The downtown area has some buildings surrounding the main square that date back to the 1800s. The courthouse, which occupies the main plaza, was built in 1882. The Rockville Historic District, which boasts more that 210 buildings in the central business district, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
One of the more interesting establishments on the town square is the Old Jail Inn. If you decide to stay at this Inn, you may choose to sleep in one of its nine jail cells. The owners have converted the cells into guest rooms complete with barred doors and a prison style bathroom. All the rooms are named for notorious criminals. (They also have regular rooms available.) Sleeping in a jail cell is not our preference but, you have admit, it certainly is unique.
We took in several of the bridges near Rockville before we headed to Springfield, IL. Here are the ones that we saw:
The Crooks Bridge built by Henry Wolfe in 1856.
The Billie Creek Bridge built by J. J. Daniels in 1895.
Another structure that Mr. Daniels built seven years later is the Neet Bridge.
The McAllister Bridge was built by J. J. Britton in 1914.
The Beeson Bridge that dates back to 1906 was moved in 1980 to the Billie Creek Village, an area that preserves some of the buildings from that region.
The final bridge that we visited is the newest and it is always a favorite at the Festival. Built in 2006, the Bridgeton Bridge sits above a dam with a lovely waterfall. Near the bridge is the Bridgeton Mill. This family-owned mill began milling in 1823 and is the oldest continually operating mill west of the Allegheny Mountains. The Roe family owns it now.
The mill churns out over 20,000 pounds of stone-ground products per year. They offer nine types of cornmeal, five types of grits, a variety of flours and other items like pancake mixes and cornbread mixes. We purchased some blue grits that are made from the same corn that is used to make blue tortilla chips. We have since cooked them and they are quite tasty.
As is often the case when you are full timing, you discover something interesting and unique about most places that you visit. Rockville, IN proved to be an unanticipated surprise for us.