We made Adams Mill our last stop on our Saturday motorcycle ride. One of the motorcycles developed mechanical issues, so we played at being roadside mechanics before we headed home.
Last stop on our Saturday Ride
Rooster claims if you hang out at Adams Mill close to the covered bridge long enough, you will see almost every biker friend you know. He might be right about this hypothesis. We had a chance to test it out on our final leg on our Saturday ride. The bikes kicked up a lot of dust as we traveled over the Indiana country roads to get to Adams Mill. That benign fact will become important later in the story, so please take note.
Adams Mill was our chosen destination as we headed from The Wabash and Erie Canal Interactive Center and rode toward home. A ride in this area wouldn’t be complete without stopping at this location. The normal process is to pull off the road near the bridge and take a break.
Therefore, the normal process on one of these stops is to hang out near the bikes. An adventurous soul might wander across the bridge on foot. When everyone is ready, they mount up again and ride to the next destination, which usually includes food. It didn’t go that way on our stop at Adams Mill.
Why bikers love to ride to the covered bridge
There are probably three reasons why Adams Mill is a favorite destination for bikers in our area.
- You can count on a scenic country road with little traffic to get you there.
- Riding across the wood bridge is like stepping back into the past.
- There is a safe and shady turn off with a cool breeze coming off the water where you can rest on a hot day.
A brief history of Adams Mill
John Adams built the gristmill at the oxbow bend on Wildcat Creek in 1845. He walked from Lafayette, Indiana, toward Kokomo until he discovered this perfect location to place a mill that would produce various grades of flour. The mill remained in the family until after the death of Warren Adams. Adams Mill exchanged hands many times until purchased by Adams Mill Inc., who made the historic treasure available to the public for education and enjoyment.
The mill stopped operating as a commercial operation in 1951 due to tighter regulations. At one point, Adams Mill provided the power for the first electrical light for the small community of Cutler, Indiana. Therefore, Adams Mill was added to the National List of Historic Places. The mill structure now functions as a museum.
A brief history of Adams Mill Covered Bridge
The Adams Mill Covered Bridge, constructed in 1875 by Wheelock Bridge Company of Fort Wayne, Indiana, served many needs for the surrounding community. Because these bridges were built from timber, they were covered to keep the lumber from rotting. These large structures often were the largest covered buildings in rural communities. Therefore, they sometimes were places where weddings, political rallies, and church services were held.
However, the decision was made to close the bridge due to wood deterioration and an act of vandalism in 1978. In 1992 Friends of Adams Mill Valley raised money to restore the bridge in hopes of preventing it from being demolished.
The bridge was restored in 1999 and open to vehicular traffic. In the early 2000s, a semi-truck attempted to drive through the bridge hence doing a lot of damage to the front portal. The Adams Mill Covered Bridge’s existence was once again in question. Fortunately, the damage could be repaired, and motorcyclists can enjoy a ride through the covered bridge once more.
Our visit to Adams Mill
If you will remember, I mentioned at the beginning of this blog how we traveled through a lot of dust to get to Adams Mill. Hence, that piece of information will come in handy in this portion of this blog.
We pulled onto the turn off on the far side of the bridge. Several members of our group decided to recross the bridge on foot so they could get a good look at Wildcat Creek. This body of water in a lot of regions of the country would be considered a river due to its width. In Indiana, it is viewed as a creek because it flows into the Wabash River.
The group came back and said they saw a large number of people tubing on the Wildcat. All of us thought this was very brave of the tubers because the creek is known to be contaminated with mercury and PCBs west of the dam in Kokomo, which is about 20 miles east of Adams Mill Covered Bridge. Some of us decided to walk the trails to watch the people float down the creek. There were two things I discovered once we left the road.
Things I discovered at Adams Mill
Firstly, I was surprised at the number of people occupying the same floating device since we all are supposed to be practicing social distancing. They all appeared to be having a good time.
One young lady decided not to join the group, who were planning to float to Rossville, a distance of thirty miles away. Her party was planning to walk back like pioneers. We thought her to be the smart one in the group. The normal practice is to drop a vehicle off at the location where you plan to end up so you can drive yourself and your floatation devices back to camp. Oh well, they are young, We figured they’d live and learn from their mistake.
Secondly, I was surprised to find out there were so many walking trails and camping spots here at Adams Mill. In fact, the Oxbow Natural Area appears to be becoming a recreational spot where a family can come to walk the trails and tent camp for the weekend.
We saw several tents set up on the creek bank. It also looks like a camping store has opened near the mill. For a small fee, a family can camp, visit a historic site, fish, or tube on the creek. If you catch anything, you might want to throw it back because of the mercury and PCBs.
After our short walk on the trails, we decided to climb up the rickety, wooden stairs, and head for home. Jerry attempted to start his bike, but the motor wouldn’t turn over. The mechanical situation proved to be problematic because the closest motorcycle repair shop is twenty miles away.
A short discussion ensued about finding someone with a truck and trailer to rescue us. Jerry said he thought he could fix the problem if he had some WD40. It sounded like one of those instances where a guy thought he could fix anything with a close hanger and a roll of duct tape.
Lynn Anderson said she had some at her house. She didn’t live too far from Adams Mill. Rooster and I decided to ride with her so she’d have some company. We stopped at a little store in the small community of Burlington, Indiana.
They were out of WD40. It took Lynn three seconds to locate her supply once we got to her house. Jerry was right. Once he applied the WD40 onto the spot where it needed to be, the bike wanted to turn over, but he encountered another problem. The motorcycle battery was dead. Luckily, he had jumper cables. Once the bike got the needed juice, it turned over right away.
Rooster’s theory proved to be right. While we waited for the mechanics in the crowd to jump Jerry’s bike, people we knew started to come to the covered bridge. Rooster and I had several interesting conversations with people we haven’t seen since the pandemic began. We found it comforting to know they had weathered the crisis.
An optimistic feeling overwhelmed me as we road the road toward home. I experienced a day that was as close to our former routine as we could get adapting to the new normal. We even made some new friends. It was nice to ride with Jerry and Maggie.
I got to know Lynn’s daughter, Jackie, a little better. She is a courageous young woman who served in the military. Then she went to work in the field of nursing. It is always fun to spend time with Brett and Lynn Anderson. All and all, I spent a day filled with adventure amid social distancing. That, in itself, is a unique experience.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.
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