The Bourbon County Commission met with historian Arnold Schofield and resident Barbara Piene Tuesday morning to discuss the historical significance of an old iron bridge located over Indian Creek near Yale Road.
Recently, Piene has expressed a desire to spend some time working around the bridge and taking the necessary steps to nominate the bridge as a historical site on the National Register of Historic Places.
Currently, Bourbon County has two historic bridges, called the Military Bridge and the Long Shoals Bridge, but Schofield said the Indian Creek Bridge is unique even from those bridges in how it was constructed.
“It’s a beautiful setting,” Schofield said of the bridge, constructed in 1898 and closed to traffic except for walkers for the past few decades. “The bridge itself has excellent historical integrity.”
Schofield said some of the things considered are whether the bridge is damaged and if it still includes the original materials from its construction. Other than the damaged deck, he said the bridge is in excellent condition and even still has the original sign describing its construction.
For the bridge to be nominated as a historical bridge, the commission must send a letter of recommendation. Schofield said letters of support, which the Historic Preservation Association has offered to write, also help with the process, which can take 10-12 months before approval is given. In that time the site would likely be visited and must be evaluated by engineers.
“Personally, I think we’d be making a mistake not to try to get it on [the register],” said commissioner Harold Coleman.
But the commissioners said they needed to know the pros and cons of such an attempt and what the county would be responsible for before giving their recommendation.
Schofield said the county would have to keep the bridge in good repair and well-maintained, but that there are grants available such as through the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund that pays 80 percent of such costs. He added fundraisers and donations can also be used to pay such fees instead of the county if that is available.
The commission gave their unanimous approval for Piene to move forward with the application.