CREEKSIDE — Jeff Blystone grew up less than two miles from the historic Trusal Covered Bridge in Washington Township.
He visited the site a number of times and even drove through the wooden bridge, located on the South Branch of Plum Creek, just off Five Points Road, when cars were still permissible.
A few years ago, Blystone’s son, Nathan, accompanied him on yet another trip to the 149-year-old covered bridge, one of just four remaining in Indiana County.
That’s when the idea first crossed Blystone’s mind about possibly building a replica version of the Trusal Covered Bridge.
“Me and my son were down looking at the bridge and walking through it and then I just got this idea in my head and I told him, ‘I can build this as a model replica,’ and he said, “Go for it.’ ”
Approximately two years ago, Blystone began drawing up plans for his 3:32-scale replica of the Trusal Covered Bridge, which was named after Robert Trusal, a nearby property owner and Civil War veteran who owned the surrounding land at the time the bridge was built in 1870.
“I had a scale ruler and I started brainstorming on what size to make (the model) and came up with 3:32,” said Blystone, 49, who is employed by Penn Mechanical Group. “I was cutting boards and then I cut all the pieces for the bridge, and that took some time. There’s literally thousands of pieces of wood in that bridge. I had to cut it all. You just can’t go to Lowe’s and buy the size of wood I needed.
“I actually measured all the boards in the original bridge and then I came home and made a replica of each board in the bridge. I spent a total of five or six hours in 10 visits down there measuring things and referencing pictures I took on how things are. I spent a lot of hours at the bridge researching the things that went into it.”
Two weeks ago, Blystone finally finished the project and said he is happy with the result.
“I worked at night, on days off and on weekends,” Blystone said. “I wouldn’t even take a guess at how many hours I have tied up in the project or how many days I worked on it.
“I’m extremely proud of the bridge because of all of the detail I put into it. It’s as close to an exact replica of the bridge as I possibly think I could have done. I kept it the original state of wood, because it wasn’t painted red and white until 1965.
“I didn’t put the Trusal (Covered) Bridge sign on it, because I don’t believe that would have been there when the bridge was built. And with the way I mounted it, it has a mirror underneath and you can look into it and see the reflection of the bottom of the bridge. It’s something I’m quite proud of.”
Blystone didn’t have a price tag for the lengthy project.
“What’s funny is the Harmon Bridge, which is nearby, originally cost $530 to build, according to a pamphlet put out by the county historical society,” he said. “I can tell you that I have equal value or more in a 3:32 scale, which is about four feet long.
“The information in the pamphlet said the original cost of the Trusal Covrered Bridge is unknown. I guess mine is, too.”
For now, the replica bridge is sitting in Blystone’s garage. He’s not sure where it will eventually end up.
“I honestly don’t know what I am going to do with it — I have no idea,” he said. “I really didn’t think this through or think that far head.
“My wife (Melissa) likes it, but I don’t know that she likes it enough that she would let me to put it in the house. I am not sure it fits in with her d￩cor.”