Cedron Tragedy: Traction Engine Plunges Into Bull Skin Creek

Article in the May 15, 1997 Ripley Bee by Ian Cunningham

On August 11, 1904 a local newspaper printed this account of a terrible accident that occurred near the edge of Lewis Township, just into Clermont, at the Benton Bridge (Cedron), over the west branch of Bull Skin Creek.

We quote it here because it would be typical of the result of a collapsing bridge wherever it occurs. Some readers may remember the Cedron community, where this event took place.

The 1904 newspaper article is as follows:
“Threshing outfit meets with accident and the owner and a helper are badly scalded and crushed and may die. Last Monday night, about eleven o’clock, as the traction engine and separator of the William Kell threshing outfit was crossing the Benton Bridge near Felicity (over Bull Skin Creek), the floor of the bridge gave away, dropping the engine to the creek below and pulling the separator down on the mess“.

“ The bridge had been examined before risking the machinery on it and considered safe. The engineer was walking ahead and the throttle was in the hand of Mr. Kell when the accident occurred. Mr. Kell and an employee named Tobe Evans were seriously, and it may be fatally, injured, both being bruised and scalded. One of the men was so badly injured that the flesh fell from portions of his body, where exposed to the escaping steam”.

Referring to this same bridge site, an article appearing in the July 20, 1933 issue of the same newspaper gives us another impression of the Cedron Bridge and its environs.

“A sycamore tree at the south entrance of the old covered bridge spanning Bull Skin Creek at Cedron carries a scar, which is now generally forgotten, but is recalled by those who know, as having been caused by a cannon explosion”.

“Jollifying near the spot, an old fowling piece exploded years ago (1933). A piece of it lodged in the old bridge, bruised the now full grown sycamore tree, but fortunately did not injure any of those who were participating”.

“After you have gazed upon the old tree, just wander into that covered structure and make an inspection. Once was a time when those who paraded their prowess in that entrancing and once important valley, never passed through the structure at nightfall unless they gave an exhibition of firearms. This furnished a resounding exhibition. And the old structure caught the bullets. They are to be seen there yet (1933), and those who know most of how they arrived, just smile as they review them”.

“Was a time when the Cedron section of Bull Skin Creek was typically American and pointed out with pride. But since ’the Kentuckians and ground hogs moved in,’ as one citizen remarked to us (1933), ’the section is just about ruined.’
The Cedron Covered Bridge was removed in the 1940’s.

This Pen and Ink Illustration made in 1993 by Bethel artist Tina Masterson from an original photograph in the collection of O. H. Sharp, shows the accident at the Benton Bridges (Cedron) in 1904. The view is from the creek bed under the bridge, looking up to the hole in the floor through which a steam engine and equipment plunged.