Dunn's Bridge a must-see stop when walking southern Porter County

2013-08-15T09:15:00Z 2013-08-21T16:12:12Z Dunn's Bridge a must-see stop when walking southern Porter CountyChristine Bryant Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
August 15, 2013 9:15 am  • 

Research shows walking benefits both the body and the mind, and the Northwest Indiana region is full of parks, trails and nature preserves that highlight the beauty and diverse landscape of the area. Throughout the summer in Home and Garden, the Times will highlight some of the best places to walk and enjoy the unique topography this region has to offer.

Located off County Road 500 East where it intersects with the Kankakee River, about nine miles southeast of Kouts, the bridge is a piece of Porter County history and is managed by the county's parks and recreation department.

While nearby downtown Kouts and the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area offer opportunities for walkers, while visiting this part of the region, don't overlook Dunn's Bridge.

The bridge, built in the mid-1890s, is rumored to have been built using steel beams salvaged from the Ferris wheel at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago.

Though that rumor has been debunked, local historians believe the 180-foot long bridge was built using beams from one of the buildings at the World's Fair.

"That's part of the park's charm," said Walter Lenckos, superintendent of the Porter County Parks and Recreation. "It's a historical piece, and nearby Kouts has that throw back in time touch to it."

The parks department purchased Dunn's Bridge and the surrounding three acres in 1994. It serves as the only designated public access to the Kankakee River in Porter County.

At the end of the 19th century, farmer J.D. Dunn built the bridge so he would have better access to his land, which fell on both sides of the Kankakee River.

"To farm the north side, he would have to go about three miles out of his way to get to the other side," said John Hodson of the Kankakee Valley Historical Society. "That's why he finally built a bridge just for him, so that he had access to his farm."

Though Dunn's Bridge only provides a short distance for walkers to explore, nearby natural habitats and small towns provide ample opportunities for a day of walking adventures.

The Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area, 5822 N. Fish and Wildlife Lane in Medaryville, offers unique opportunities to observe large numbers of Canada geese and sandhill cranes. Trails lead to two observation towers that provide viewing points to see thousands of the cranes in fall migration.

Walking historic downtown Kouts offers visitors plenty of opportunities for shopping and other activities.

About half an hour east of the bridge is the Tippecanoe River State Park, 4200 N. U.S. 35, Winamac, which offers 10 trails that traverse sand hills, marsh areas, oak forests and open fields.

For more information on Dunn's Bridge, go to indianadunes.com.

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