Saturday, September 9, 2017

Time Traveller

     Last weekend I, along with my family, was presented a unique gift.  My niece and her husband allowed us all to travel back 30 years in time, and it only took an hour by car!  The destination was 1987, the year my father sold our trailer at Nevins Campground along the shore of Raccoon Lake.  I've written several times about my years growing up in the woods and on the water of Raccoon Lake.  I count those two decades as among the most enjoyable and most formative years of my life, and I thought they were gone forever. 

     Our destination did not actually exist all those years ago.  The family was called to gather at a
small cabin situated on a hill adjacent to our old, beloved campground.  As a boy, this hill was forested and was my main path to enter and explore the surrounding woods.  I would slip away from our trailer and walk to the edge of a steep ravine.  I had two choices.  I could turn left and head to the muddy lowlands full of jewelweed, which grew in abundance in this flood prone area, and skirt the hill altogether, or I could continue forward and accept the challenge of the ravine's sharply angled sides.  For me, the choice was nearly always the latter. 

     Traversing this chasm involved two stages.  The slope down from the trailer side  of the ravine was steep, but it was one in which you could stay upright as you descended.  That was not to say it was an easy trek.  You stood and gathered your nerves before starting a run down the hill.  The run was in no way controlled other than to try to stay on your feet as you accelerated faster and faster toward the bottom.  There was usually a small stream trickling along the bottom, but the speed you acquired charging down easily carried you over this ditch and partially up the other side.   Now gravity took over and slowed you until you stopped and started slipping back down towards the water.  The opposite side was steeper than the first, and walking up its face was nearly impossible.  Rather, you searched for exposed roots to grab and pull, and you kicked to plunge the toes of your shoes into the side of the hill for a foothold.  Time and again, your feet would slip and you would suddenly fall forward supported only by a root or small sapling, or if not holding onto a root, you would slide until you were left standing in the muddy stream below.  Bit by bit you clawed your way to the top.  On the return trip, however, one employed a different tactic. To charge down this side was akin to running down the vertical side of a building.   So rather than risking an out of control run, you simply squatted and skied down this part of the hill on your shoes and rump.  The seat of my pants usually bore muddy witness to this maneuver, much to my mother's dismay. 

The trailers as seen from the cabins
     On the summit, this hill was relatively flat and easy to hike.  It ran parallel to the first row of trailers, so I would always stay to the far side in order not to be seen by the other campers.  From this side I had a great view of the rest of the woods.  As I stated before, the lower area closest to the water was a stand of jewelweed, and I would sit on the hilltop and watch hummingbirds fly from one flaming orange  blossom to the next.  But as you made your way further from the water, the jewelweed gave way to scattered mature trees and young saplings.  As a young boy, this would be the site of a planned hut, but more on that later.

     In the spring this hill was covered with wildflowers such as phlox, bloodroot, dog-toothed violet, trillium and hepatica.  I gathered several of these plants and transplanted them into a little garden I had created on our lot.  The flowers were still blooming in this little patch years after we had sold our trailer, but sadly that patch of ground has since been buried in fill as the current resident has changed the grade of the property.  Although near the camp, the hill was a quiet retreat where I could be alone and commune with nature.  I recall napping amongst those spring ephemerals in a little patch of sunlight.  The light breeze, the warmth of the sun and the song of the birds lulled me to sleep.  I can remember awakening to the sight of a kettle of vultures circling above me.  At the time, I thought they had mistaken me for a dead body, but now I know better.  I'm sure they just caught a good thermal radiating upwards from my sunny patch of woods.  On another day, while sitting there, I heard movement in the leaves to my side.  Startled and unsure of what was approaching, I froze in place watching the fallen leaves moving on the ground.  Suddenly out popped a mole that had emerged from its burrow, looking blinkingly into the sun.  Unaware of my presence, he made his way back into the leaf litter and was soon gone.  It was one of my favorite areas in the woods, but today it is a gravel lane leading from the camp road all the way to the tip of the hill where 40 years ago I was gathering my nerve for the mad dash into the ravine.  Sprinkled along this drive are four small cabins and a few surviving trees.  Don't get me wrong, it is a very nice campground with a wonderful view of the lake, but it is not my wooded hill.

     In my youth, as I explored the woods, there was always a point at which I would have to come off that hill.  Again, I had a couple of choices.  The hillside here was even steeper than that which had carried me out of the campground.  To move down its side usually meant another long slide on my rump, and I was not always brave enough to even do that.   I did feel emboldened one year and discovered a way to "hop" down the hill.  I would stand at the precipice and leap off the top.  With feet spread wide, as soon as I hit the ground, I would spring straight up in the air and land a few feet further down where the process was repeated.  The movement resembled rappelling, but was done facing outward and without a rope.  It was exhilarating and a very effective way of moving down the hill, but alas my magic bounce was but a fleeting skill.  Not long after, I was hiking with my sister and her boyfriend, and I had explained my newly acquired talent.  Her boyfriend was an amateur photographer, so he positioned himself with his camera so he could catch me in the air.  Try as I may, I could not bounce down that hill, and sadly, I never did again. 

     The other way off the hill was to proceed to its end where the descent was much more subtle.  Again, a stream, wider than the one we had simply hopped across behind the trailers,  traced its way along the bottom of this ravine, creating yet another obstacle to be tackled.  The answer was to look for a fallen log as a bridge.  As there were usually several logs lying across the stream at any one time, this was not difficult.  The challenge was to pick one that was not rotting and ready to break into two soggy halves or that did not threaten to shed your shoes with the slime mold that grew along its surface.  My sister was more of a daredevil than me, so she would sometimes pick a tree spanning the ravine feet off the forest floor.  Personally, I chose to stay no more than a foot off the ground.
My bridge

     Several hills sprouted from this central position in the woods, so there was any number of ways to proceed from that spot.  In one direction, you would scale one or two more hills and emerge in Highland Acres, a small housing edition.  I rarely took this path since it seemed like I was trespassing, and besides my goal was to avoid people.  There was also a path that the camp owner had created that passed through this area.  Trail 1 emerged just above the swimming pond on the camp road.  It was the trail on which my dad would sometimes take me on my sister's Honda 70 minibike.  Or you could just climb one more hill and emerge near the fishing pond that also sat next to the camp road.  I did not like this path because the hill to the road was steep and there was thick undergrowth in that area.

My boyhood bibles
     I was more fascinated by the flat lowland between the hills.  This is the area I mentioned earlier, where as a 10 year old, I set out to create a "home."  It was the year of 5th grade, and I had just read the book My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George.  This book chronicles the tale of a boy running away to live off the land in the Catskill Mountains.  In the story Sam Gridley had lived in a hollowed out hemlock tree.  My woods lacked such a giant tree, so I envisioned more of a wigwam type structure.  That summer, I met another boy of about the same age and shared with him both my book and my dream.  He quickly bought into my vision, and one weekend we headed out into the woods with knapsacks on our backs, ropes over our shoulders and my trusty WWII equipment belt with its original canteen and my little hatchet buckled around my waist. 
Although not my original gear, this is an exact replica from the Military Antiques Museum


     We picked out a corner of this bottomland where two streams came together.  The ground was relatively open with the exception of scattered saplings.  These were to be the ribs of my little hut.  We found three or four trees spaced just right and began pulling them inward toward the ground.  Our goal was to bring them towards the center, tie them together at the top (allowing their branches and leaves to act as sort of a natural roof), and strap poles around the edge.  Then I was going to peel bark off the fallen logs in the area and lay that against the frame as siding.  Outside the door of this hut, I carved out a depression in the dirt and gathered river rock from the nearby streams to create a ring around it.  This was to be my fire pit.   Our aspirations exceeded our efforts, however.  We tied the trees together, strapped on some poles and even found a few pieces of bark, but the building never
materialized beyond that.


     Although I frequently visited this spot, I never built my little home in the woods.  But it remained one of my favorite spots.  I recall from this vantage point I could see an animal path nearby that led to a den halfway up the adjacent hill.  It was at the hole of this den that I found animal bones and collected a skull for my collection.  The hill that housed the animal den also yielded morel mushrooms in the spring (as did the hill on which the cabins now sit.)  Another geologic feature making this the ideal homestead was a small limestone outcropping just across the stream.  This "cave" was to be my safe spot in storms or a tornado.  In truth, there was only room enough to lay lengthwise just under the ledge, but to a young boy, it was an exotic cave.  Perhaps I could even carve deeper into the hillside to create another secret home.  The possibilities were endless in my na├»ve mind.

     Time has remodeled this little patch of woods, but I wanted desperately to once again explore it.  If this weekend of time exploration was to be successful, I needed to find something that seemed familiar from my childhood.  No longer was I able to charge down and up my old ravine.  The lane on which the cabins sat already had carried me to the far side of that.  The best way to head into the woods was through the lower approach.  Here is one place where time has totally altered the landscape, but for once I can say it was for the better.  The soggy area that had been full of jewelweed and pokeberry has be redesigned by both man and nature.  Gone are all the maple saplings and willows that once choked the edges of the lake.  Stacked stone along the shore minimizes erosion and creates a picturesque border.  Over time, seeds of cypress trees from somewhere far across the lake have floated into the woods during periods of floods, and as the water receded, they have taken root and grown.    Where once a stream began to cut into the woods, a gravel covered path now meanders.  It begins under the soft shade of the cypress trees and winds deeper into the woods.  Rather than walking logs over the streams (which I still chose to do) there are now wooden foot bridges.  And scattered here and there along the gravel pathway amongst the trees were small boats and canoes.  I guess their owners want easy access to the lake, but do not want to carry their boats down steep hills, so they have tucked them into the recesses of the woods.

   
My "cave" keeping watch on the far side of the stream
I followed this path until I felt I was near the spot of my old hidden campsite.  I needed to get my bearings so I headed to my right until I could find the old stream bed at the base of the steep hill down which I had once bounced.  There on the far side sat my little outcropping of stone.  Nothing had changed with my "cave."  It still sat covered in mosses and lichen.  Maiden hair ferns still took hold in its
crevices, and spiders still made nests in its dry interior.  When I saw that, I instantly knew I was in the right place.  I returned to the flat land to scan the ground.  What had once been saplings were now mature trees about seven to ten inches in diameter.  The rope had rotted away decades ago and the trees had straightened in the sun.  Yet there stood a group of trees in a location my memory told me was the spot those limber young saplings had once been bent to our will.  I needed to find more proof that I had returned to my magic spot, so I kicked around in the leaves until I found some larger rocks.
There they were, my fire pit stones still trying to form their ring.  Most of them were gone, but enough survived to tell me this was my camp.  The woods seemed much smaller now than it did 45 years ago, but all those magical things of our youth get smaller and duller as we age. 

My old campsite
     There was something else I needed to find; one last thing that would carry me back in time and place me on that spot.  That something was a beech tree on which I had carved my initials nearly 40 years ago.  I can still remember the day.  I had been hiking through the woods, as I had so many times before, when suddenly movement ahead caught my attention.  I looked through the trees and saw something large and brown flashing in the distance.  I thought I had found a deer, so I started moving towards the commotion.  Suddenly, my "deer" rose into the air and flew away!  I realized I was actually watching a large hawk, having just claimed some poor woodland creature, laboriously taking flight into the trees beyond. The chase was on.  I started running, trying to get close enough to identify the bird and get a glimpse of what it had just captured.  The chase led me up the hill, my adrenalin easily propelling me up the steep sides with little effort.  However, by the time I reached the summit, the bird was gone.  I remained looking for it for several minutes before making my way back towards the lower ground.  I stopped just above my little cave where a pair of beech trees rose before me.  I felt my pocket knife sitting in my jeans pocket and remembered the stories of Daniel Boone carving his name on trees as he explored the frontier.  I have always been against graffiti, but on that day I had a Daniel Boone moment.  I wanted to commemorate my hawk siting, so with my little knife I carved my initials and the year '76 into the smooth bark of the tree.  Now standing by my old fire pit I looked towards the stone outcropping.  Yes, there were still a pair of beech trees growing above it.  I climbed a fallen log to cross the stream, then just as in the days of old, I searched for handholds among the roots and fought to ascend the steep hillside.  It took several attempts, but finally I drug myself up the hill until I was standing between the two trees.  There before me were my initials.  They were now flattened scars, widened by four decades of growth, but they were still very
legible.  I was once again that young boy chasing hawks, building huts and leaving his mark on the land.  Bulldozers and chainsaws may have taken away part of my woods, and houses encroached ever closer, but here on this spot, I was alone in the woods and feeling like my fourteen year old self.   The time machine had delivered me to the time and place I wanted to be.
    
     The woods did not disappoint, but the more public areas of camp were another story.  It had begun on the drive into camp.  The dusty gravel road that winds its way through the hills and woods to the top of the campground used to pass two ponds.  The first of these was the old swimming hole.  It was a cold pool of water with a floating dock where we kids would swim while dodging deer flies or scanning for water snakes.  The second pond was just up a small hill from this and was the fishing pond.  Here I would bring my little pole and can of worms and fish for bluegills and sunfish.  The fish were small, but so was I, and that was all the excitement I needed.  On this trip into camp, there were no ponds.  Both had long since filled with silt and mature trees rose from the depressions that marked their previous existence. 
The old fishin' hole back in the day


     More troubling still was the camp itself.  Many, if not most, of the trailers from our time there are now gone.  In place of the larger mobile homes, there are now smaller campers and RV’s, usually with large decks build nearby.  It makes sense there would be change over.  We purchased our first trailer nearly a half century ago, and they were older models even then.  Yet for someone who navigates by familiar landmarks, I felt totally lost in what was my second home for over two decades.  All three of the trailers we had owned at one time or another were gone, and I was only positive of one of those sites. 
Our first lot now
Our first trailer was the middle of three  that sat in the bottom loop of the figure eight road the cut through the first hill of camp
The road still traces that same path, so picking out our old lot was relatively easy.  The other two sat on the side of the road with no strong physical landmark tying them to their original positions.  I could make out the general topography of one of our old lots, but my memory now fails me.  I could not recall whether this was our second or last trailer.  There was very little that looked familiar at all.  My garden
Looking at our first trailer from the opposite side of the loop.
of spring flowers was long since gone.
  The tire swing that had hung behind the Gossman trailer was nowhere to be seen.  The path we took to where we docked our boat had long since become overgrown in weeds, and erosion had stripped part of the hill away.  I felt like a person with dementia lost in his own neighborhood.  I should know where I was, but darn it, I just couldn’t place myself for the life of me.
Looking up the road at the site of our second and third trailers
Our third and final trailer


     Continuing down the road, the trailers thinned and there were empty spaces where my mind told me a trailer should be sitting.  The large turnaround at the end of the road was gone.  Posts now sealed off the area where once we had parked to fish.  The road ends at the tip of a hill which juts out into the lake.  Beyond the turnaround was a small triangular patch of woods where I also would play.  Sadly, years of flooding have killed nearly every tree on the point, transforming the entire area.  The only thing familiar about this part of camp was what we had always considered our beach area.
The turnaround as it now exists
The beach

Enjoying the beach 30 years ago
     The beach was just a small slip of sand next to where our friends would tie their pontoon.  You took a little path through the willows and emerged on a section of shore covered in fine sand.  Here the land gently faded into the lake, creating an area in which even small children could safely walk and enjoy the water.  Here was the spot where my sister's dog, Pumpkin, would swim until she had to be pulled from the water having exhausted herself visiting swimmers and retrieving floating sticks.   Here was where I would make sand sculptures of bodies lying on the shore.  The beach still exists, but it is much smaller now and you have to walk a little further down the shore.  Yet it still served its old function when on the second day of my visit, my nieces and grand nieces splashed in the water and played in the sand as we had done once long ago. 

Pumpkin enjoying the water once upon a time
  
  I waded along the sandy shore and focused on the rocks scattered in the shallows.  These are the stones carved and polished by the glaciers who pushed their way across the state 17,000 years ago.  There they were deposited in the soil, which now is being eroded by the constant wave action of the lake.  Pieces of granite, shale, sandstone and basalt decorated the water's edge, and provided great missiles with which the little ones could test their throwing abilities.  As a boy, my eyes were always focused down, searching the ground for the more colorful and interesting rocks or the
occasional fossil, and I admit my habits haven't changed.  I scanned the stones, and there among the rocks was a piece of limestone crowded with the remains of ancient crinoids, a sea dwelling animal that looked more plantlike than animal.  It was one of the first fossils I learned to recognize, so it felt so right to look down and see them once more.  Also scattered among the detritus were the exoskeletons of crawdads and the bones of a large fish picked clean by hungry raccoons.  Nature remained the one constant.  Yes, the shoreline may have been remodeled, but all the components were the same, and the familiarity eased some of my discomfort.
Fossilized crinoids

         I left the lake with mixed feelings.  We are all familiar with Thomas Wolfe’s declaration that “you can’t go home again.”  I understand, for try as I may to recapture those early days, they are gone.  The camp has changed, the woods have changed, the wildlife has changed.  The residents I knew are mostly dead now, their trailers have long ago been sold for scrap or hauled to the dump.  Bulldozers and erosion have reshaped the land around the trailers.  Only those things most intimately tied to the earth - the trees themselves, the stones, the play of light off the water, the smell and sound of burning wood, only those things have persisted.  Equally important, I have changed.  Gone is the carefree, agile, slip of a boy who could dart through the woods like a wild animal.  In his place is a stiff, aging, overweight man with responsibilities and worries.  I now trip over the roots, scratch my face on the low branches and heave for breath at the top of the hills.  My mother is no longer around to scold me for muddy clothes, and Dad must stop to rest walking the camp road.  Yet the memories are there, like ghosts prowling the hills.  I can still see and hear them, but they are slowly fading into the vapor.  And it was for that privilege - the chance to once again lie back and watch shooting stars, to touch my initials on an old beech tree, to feel the cool lake water on my skin - that I was thankful for the gift my niece had given the family.  As imperfect as it was, it was still a trip back in time, and for that I will be forever grateful.

 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Uncovering the Past

It has been nearly a year since I posted a blog, and I must admit that what follows is not my typical entry.  I am creating this simply as a way of sharing a few photos.  I tried posting them as an album on Facebook, but it would not publish them for some reason.  So I shall put my photos here so that I may link to it from Facebook, and if a few strangers stop by and view them along the way, all the better.

I have been in one of my nostalgic moods of late, and having some free time this weekend, I decided to take a car tip to the home of many of my earliest and happiest memories.  I have written many times about my experiences at Raccoon Lake in Parke County, Indiana.  (http://scott-ramblings.blogspot.com/2011/03/lake.html)  Whenever the leaves surrender their green of summer and assume the golds and russets of fall, and the smell of wood smoke from the neighbor's fireplace teases my nose, my heart returns to the lake.  Yesterday, I decided to act on those emotions and physically make the trip to revisit those places from my past.

What I found was one of the biggest disappointments in my life.  The campground, which had once been so magical and inviting, is now an aged, rundown collection of small trailers and campers.  Gone are many of the large, spacious mobile homes of my time, including all three that my family had owned.  In their place are small little travel trailers that people have simply "parked" on the lots.  In fact, some of the lots themselves seem to have been downsized.  In particular, our final property at the lake, which Dad sold in the late 80's, has been carved into a raised, little square of gravel.  I'm not sure how the family cooks and warms themselves, since the outdoor fireplace is also gone.  Blackened gravel is the only testament to the spot where once my family gathered to warm ourselves, watch the flames dance and smell some of the best food I've ever eaten cook.  The paths to the water are now overgrown with weeks and covered with fallen branches and trees.The cute little Chinese lanterns which once adorned each lot are distant memories.  Even the outhouses, not necessarily the most cherished of my memories, have been replaced with old port-o-lets whose doors do not even latch or lock.  It should have felt like an improvement, but somehow it just didn't.

Following the road through the campground to its end at a small turnaround, I found that the little dirt nooks and crannies that used to be areas to pull off and park while people went fishing are closed off with posts driven into the soil and overgrown with weeds.  The wooded point that extended beyond the road and jutted out into the lake is only a shadow of itself. Most of the trees are gone and in their place is some strange, low growing plant that I do not recognize.  I suspect it is some exotic, invasive plant, perhaps washed in during an earlier flood.  Years of speedboats churning up the lake have caused significant erosion literally stripping the hillside almost to the edge of the road. 

No pictures will appear of this part of our trip because these were not memories I wished to capture.  So my wife and I climbed back into the car to explore the countryside and the many covered bridges for which the county is known.  Our first destination was the small town of Mansfield, a place my family and I have visited countless times over the last half century.  What I remember is a quiet town resembling an old western ghost town.  What I found, however, is a town which has sold itself out to commercialism.  The old mill is still there, as is the covered bridge, but many of the little buildings I recall having once lined the streets have been replaced with little commercial shacks peddling food during the annual Covered Bridge Festival, which concluded a week ago.  The cornfields which in years past surrounded the town are now parking lots.  The little one room jail cell is now an ice cream booth, and the old Boot Hill style cemetery that once sat atop a small hill is no where to be found. 

Again, with sadness I climbed back into the van to begin exploring new territory that was not tainted by prior experience and memories.  We set off on the gravel covered back roads to explore a few of the other covered bridges in the area.  I may have made this trip once with my parents, but it was not burned into my psyche.  Purposely choosing a time after the bridge festival, we did not have to fight traffic or crowds.  Our visits to the bridges were quiet and intimate. It was just what I needed to restore warm feelings toward this western county in our state.  Along the way we watched Amish families working their farms, following behind teams of draft horses.  We flushed a bald eagle who teasingly flew just ahead of us until I retrieved my camera and was prepared to snap a photo.  Then it spiraled higher and higher and drifted off over the fields.  Thankfully, this area had not been spoiled by time or corrupted by commercialism.  And that is what I have tried to capture in the following photos.  So I invite you to travel with me to Parke County and a time gone by.  (And don't forget to click on each photo for a larger view!)
After abandoning the old campground, one of our first stops was the Mansfield Dam.  This is the view from atop the dam, but I prefer the wooded hills and spillway to the view of the lake on the opposite side.  The fall colors are greatly lacking this year.  This would usually be ablaze with oranges, yellows, golds and reds.

The old Mansfield mill is one of the few unchanged structures.  It has gotten a coat of paint, but otherwise, it remains as I remember it
My wife exiting the Mansfield covered bridge.

This is the more unkempt side of the bridge, but in ways I think it adds to the quaintness of the bridge.  The bridge itself was erected in 1867.

I had to jump into a couple of pictures, too.

I think the woodwork inside a covered bridge is just as attractive, if not more attractive, than the exterior of the bridge.



A different angle showing a little more of the roof structure.
The Mansfield bridge from down by the river.

The other part of Mansfield which still exists as I remember it is the bridge itself.  I do recall a period where it was closed to car traffic, but it was shored up many years ago and is once again open.  We left Mansfield and started off on a little gravel country road paralleling the river to find some more bridges.  The first we came to was the Conley's Ford Bridge. 
Younger by nearly half a century than its Mansfield counterpart, the Conley's Ford Bridge is also functional.


This bridge is only a single span bridge, so only one arch on each side, but you still have to love the wooden structure.

Still spanning the river over a century later.

Although a pretty day, there was still a nip in the air.  My wife tried to stay in the sun to soak up warmth.
From there we continued on until we came to a very different style of bridge.  The old Bridgeton Iron Bridge was build over Big Raccoon Creek in 1892, but was removed from use one year shy of its 100th birthday.  It is funny how the wooden bridges have held up better than the iron ones.  We did not visit the one bridge I remember on the way to Mansfield.  It looked very much like this bridge, and it too has been closed for many years.  We always called it the "Singing Bridge" and it did hum and moan as a car would pass over it.  It was very creepy and often left one wondering if it would hold up under the strain.
The Bridgeton Iron Bridge still standing vigil alongside its modern day counterpart.

The view of Big Raccoon Creek from the bridge.

Looking down the span on a gorgeous October day.
 As interesting as the iron bridge was, we were in search of covered bridges.  So back on the road until we came to the town of Bridgeton.  As the name would suggest, it has its own covered bridge.  However, an arson destroyed the beautiful Bridgton covered bridge several years ago, but the public rallied and the bridge was rebuilt in 2006.  
The modern bridge still stands proud above the river.

It is obvious that this bridge has not weathered a century of use, but it does not take away from its beauty.

Like Mansfield, Bridgeton also has a mill, as can be seen from the bridge itself.


Returning the favor, here is the view of the bridge from the mill.

The new timbers are still quite evident looking down the expanse of the bridge.

One of the old homes in Bridgeton re-purposed for the Covered Bridge Festival.

It was time to leave the town of Bridgeton and return to the quiet back-roads.  Along the way we enjoyed the various farms.  It appears we were also the subject of interest to the "locals."
Beautiful horses in a beautiful setting watching us pass.

These guys were less impressed, but still a gorgeous pair.
 The next bridge on our path was the Neet Bridge.  Although it is one of the younger bridges, having been built in 1904, it no longer is open to traffic, but that doesn't spoil its beauty.
Cute little bridge in a postcard type setting.

I love how the old bridges all had names.  It gives them more character.

Moss doesn't only grow on the north side of trees.  It apparently grows on the north side of bridges, too.

Again, the classic look.

The open windows and openings near the roof sure add more light into the bridge.

My wife taking in the scenery.
As we approached Rockville, there were a couple more bridges.  The first of this was the McAllister Bridge which is still in use.
Built in 1914, the McAllister bridge still allows vehicular traffic.

Don't you almost hear the ghostly sounds of past horses clip-clopping along the wooden floor.

Again jumping in front of the camera

Another mossy sided bridge.

A little different look at a covered bridge.  Notice how the side bows out.

But it still looks pretty spanning the creek.
 Finally, we came to Crooks Bridge which is definitely showing its age despite still being used.
Built in 1856, the Crooks Bridge was the oldest one we visited.

Another bridge with louvered windows to allow a little more light into it.

The old gal even needs cables to keep her standing straight.
The final look at the Indiana countryside from inside a covered bridge.
 Time may not have stood still for my old campground, but for much of the county, I was happy to see that things were pretty much the same as they have been for over a century.  I will return again, but I don't know if I'll visit the old campgrounds.  I think they are better left in my memories.