Laughery Creek area chockful of history

Ohio County's northern border abounds with history. Traveling north into Dearborn County, drivers on Ind. 56 may take note of the concrete bridge and county line signs, but not much else. Little do they know they are passing through an area rich in diverse history.

Spanning 300 feet across the border of Laughery Creek, is the Triple Whipple Bridge, built in 1878 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The unique construction gives the bridge its funny name.

The future of the unusual bridge was uncertain after it was decommissioned in the 1970s. As the bridge fell into disrepair, the reality of demolition loomed. Salvation came in 2008 when local citizens, led by John Joseph Graf, succeeded in preventing demolition and began the process of restoration.

Reopened in 2009, the Triple Whipple Bridge is the only remaining triple-intersection Pratt truss bridge in the United States. Today visitors can see it up close as the restored bridge is now a pedestrian bridge connecting Ohio and Dearborn counties. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Across from the small parking lot for the bridge, hidden behind a row of trees, is the 1846 Greek Revival Speakman House designed by builder Timothy Newman, who moved to Ohio County in the 1830s from Philadelphia. The house is now privately owned, but the original owner, Stephen S. Speakman, is said to have built it for his young Kentucky bride using bricks made right on the property.

Along the border itself, Laughery Creek, a violent Revolutionary War battle took place.

In 1781 near the mouth of the creek, a small party of American soldiers landed as they traveled down the Ohio River. On Aug. 24, British allies attacked and overwhelmed them. The area is now known as the site of

Lochry's Defeat or Lochry's Massacre as noted by a roadside marker and a memorial inside River View Cemetery on the Dearborn side of the creek.

The cemetery also is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

With so much history in one spot, drivers should take the time to stroll across the Triple Whipple Bridge and take in a view of the creek that bears Lochry's name (albeit with a slightly different spelling.)

Are there other such areas in Ohio County with multiple historic points of interest? Contact me at jholbrook@indianalandmarks.org and let me know.

Jarrad Holbrook received his Master of Historic Preservation degree from the University of Georgia’s College of Environment & Design where he also worked for the university’s Cultural Landscape Laboratory. He is now the Director of the Southeast Field Office for Indiana Landmarks, covering Dearborn, Ohio, Ripley, and Switzerland counties.