Through many donations, a portion of a project to replace a destroyed covered bridge in Parke County could be finished by the end of this week.
Logging crews from the C.C. Cook and Son Lumber Co., Reelsville, have been cutting down 126 tulip poplar trees in the Greene-Sullivan State Forest and hauling them to Bridgeton to begin rebuilding a covered bridge that was destroyed by arson last year.
Cook and Son co-owner Charlie Cook said his company, along with Pike Lumber, Carbon, and representatives of the Bridgeton Bridge Committee met last fall to begin discussions on how to erect a new bridge to replace the original bridge.
"We had a meeting at our mill last fall," Cook said. "After the fire, there was a discussion in the community (to rebuild the bridge). At that point, they were looking for donations for trees.
"All the work we're doing is for the Bridgeton covered bridge."
Cook said he was under the impression that the state decided to donate trees for the project from the Greene-Sullivan State Forest.
He said his company, which he runs with his brother Ronnie, elected to donate time and labor for the project.
"A group got together and were looking for donations for trees," Cook said. "Then, obviously they wanted donations of labor."
Cook said his company started moving equipment into the forest on Monday.
He said the 60-year-old tulip poplar trees are in a rough area of the forest, but those particular trees were marked to be used.
Cook Lumber will cut, load and haul the logs to Bridgeton where they will be run through portable saw mills to cut the logs. Cook said the longest timber needed for the new bridge is 35-feet long.
He also said Pike Lumber has helped with hauling the lumber from the forest, which is just south of Dugger.
This is not the first project Cook Lumber has been involved in regarding helping set up a new bridge in the area. Cook said his company has worked two other jobs involving private landowners.
"We felt like we wanted to help out," Cook said. "A lot of our raw timber comes from the Parke County area. We felt like giving something back to the community."
Cook said the logging crew cutting the trees could be finished with the project by today.
Cook's sons Shaun, Craig and Chip, along with Ronnie's son Todd, are also involved in the project.
The original bridge, which had been in place since 1868, was destroyed by fire on April 28, 2005.
Former Putnam County resident Jesse Lee Payne, 34, was arrested on charges of arson following the incident. Police discovered Payne in the vicinity of the bridge following its destruction. He was taken into custody for violation of parole.
Payne has a criminal history of arson in Putnam County. In 1988, he pleaded guilty to arson of a home near Cloverdale. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with four of those suspended.