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Alabama's Covered Bridges

Updated on May 30, 2017

The Swann-Joy Bridge, Blount County, Alabama

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Why Do We Love Covered Bridges So Much?

Prior to steel and concrete construction, bridges were made of wood. They deteriorated quickly, and covering them to protect the floor of the bridge, and its supporting structure from the elements became the thing to do. Most of America's covered bridges have vanished due to neglect, vandalism, and arson. Many, if not all, are now on the National Register of Historic Places, and are protected by volunteer groups such as Friends of Covered Bridges. Most of these old bridges were built over small streams, branches, and other tributaries in an effort to connect small communities for trade, worship, and social gatherings. Because of this, most of the surviving bridges, especially in the South, are on tiny country roads in our country's heavily wooded but beautiful countryside.

At one time, Alabama was home to over 35 covered bridges that enhanced transportation. Of those, only eleven remain. This page shows only the three I was able to visit prior to relocating to central Florida; those 3 are all in Blount County, Alabama. They are the Horton Mill Bridge, the Swann-Joy Bridge, and the Easley-Rosa Bridge. To help visitors locate them the Covered Bridge Trail in Blount County was created. Unfortunately, the link to that website is no longer working. Here is a new link for more information, unfortunately the widget to make the link clickable also seems to be broken at this time: http://www.appalachianhistory.net/2013/12/blount-county-alabamas-covered-bridges.html

There are three other historic covered bridges near the Birmingham area. Cullman County, north of Birmingham, is home to the Clarkson Covered Bridge, which is in now in a park just outside the city of Cullman, on Cullman County Road 1043. The Kymulga Bridge, built in 1861, is also now in a park along with the Kymulga Grist Mill, in Childersburg in Talladega County, east of Birmingham. Talladega County is also home to the Waldo Covered Bridge (also known as the Riddle Mill Covered Bridge). It is near Alabama Highway 77, near the town of Waldo.

The Horton Mill Bridge

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The Horton Mill Bridge, Blount County, Alabama

This is the Horton Mill Bridge, in Blount County, Alabama, as it appeared in the spring of 2012. Located on the Calvert Prong of the Little Warrior River, near the town of Oneonta (pronounced "Ah-knee-ah-na"). Currently the highest covered bridge above a river in the United States, this bridge is on Alabama Hwy. 75, about 5 miles from US Hwy. 231.

The original bridge was built by Mr. Thurman Horton in 1894, so that his customers from Sand Mountain could get to his mill and store. It was rebuilt slightly upstream from the original site in 1934. The bridge was added to the National Register on December 29, 1970. Additional restoration was done in 1974. It was closed due to vandalism in 2007, reopened in 2009. Restoration began again in 2011.

Another good resource for information about historic sites in Alabama is National Register of Historic Places in Alabama.

My Photos of the Horton Mill Bridge

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The road leading to the Horton Mill Bridge.Front entrance to Horton Mill Bridge during the current restoration project.This is a side view near the entrance of the bridge, showing the pretty lattice-pattern used by the builder, Mr. Thurman Horton, in 1894.Here you see into the bridge. Soon you will be allowed to walk through this picturesque bridge.
The road leading to the Horton Mill Bridge.
The road leading to the Horton Mill Bridge.
Front entrance to Horton Mill Bridge during the current restoration project.
Front entrance to Horton Mill Bridge during the current restoration project.
This is a side view near the entrance of the bridge, showing the pretty lattice-pattern used by the builder, Mr. Thurman Horton, in 1894.
This is a side view near the entrance of the bridge, showing the pretty lattice-pattern used by the builder, Mr. Thurman Horton, in 1894.
Here you see into the bridge. Soon you will be allowed to walk through this picturesque bridge.
Here you see into the bridge. Soon you will be allowed to walk through this picturesque bridge.

The Swann-Joy Bridge

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Swann Bridge (or Joy Bridge) in Blount County, Alabama

The Swann Bridge, at 330 feet, is the longest covered bridge remaining in Alabama. It was built in 1933 b Zelmer C. and Forrest Tidwell to connect the communities of Joy and Cleveland, Alabama, over the Locust Fork of the Black Warrior River. It was located on property owned by the Swann Farms, so it became known as the Swan Bridge, but many residents called it the Joy Bridge, because it was on the road to Joy. The bridge was restored by the Blount County Commission in 1979. Again needing funds for restoration, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 20, 1981. It was later closed to motor vehicle traffic in 2009, after a routine inspection and, after complete rehabilitation, it was again reopened to traffic in October of 2012.

My Photos of the Swann - Joy Bridge

Click thumbnail to view full-size
This how the Swann Bridge appeared when I visited in the spring of 2012. It was so weakened from weather and age, not even foot traffic was allowed.No visit to the Swann Bridge would be complete without taking my own photo of this iconic view of this famous bridge.This is a side view of the entrance to the bridge, showing the barricades as well as the new spring leaves still emerging.
This how the Swann Bridge appeared when I visited in the spring of 2012. It was so weakened from weather and age, not even foot traffic was allowed.
This how the Swann Bridge appeared when I visited in the spring of 2012. It was so weakened from weather and age, not even foot traffic was allowed.
No visit to the Swann Bridge would be complete without taking my own photo of this iconic view of this famous bridge.
No visit to the Swann Bridge would be complete without taking my own photo of this iconic view of this famous bridge.
This is a side view of the entrance to the bridge, showing the barricades as well as the new spring leaves still emerging.
This is a side view of the entrance to the bridge, showing the barricades as well as the new spring leaves still emerging.

The Easly-Rosa Bridge

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Easly (or Rosa) Covered Bridge in Blount County, Alabama

This is how the Easley Bridge appeared in the fall of 2012.

The Old Easley (or Rosa) Covered Bridge is also on the Calvert Prong of the Little Warrior River, but on the Dub Branch, just one of many streams and tributaries that feed into the river. Of the three covered bridges still in existence in Blount County, this one is the oldest and the shortest. Built in 1927, by Zelmer C. Tidwell and Forrest Tidwell, this bridge was in continuous use until it was closed in 2009, after a routine inspection found it to be unsafe.

The bridge was listed on the National Register on August 20, 1981, having previously been listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage on March 3, 1976.

My Photos of the Easley - Rosa Bridge

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Construction barricades at entrance to the bridge. On this bridge, too, even foot traffic was believed to be dangerous.Looking through the barricades into the bridge.A side view of one entrance. It really was a pretty bridge; and it will be again.The construction supports during restoration.
Construction barricades at entrance to the bridge. On this bridge, too, even foot traffic was believed to be dangerous.
Construction barricades at entrance to the bridge. On this bridge, too, even foot traffic was believed to be dangerous.
Looking through the barricades into the bridge.
Looking through the barricades into the bridge.
A side view of one entrance. It really was a pretty bridge; and it will be again.
A side view of one entrance. It really was a pretty bridge; and it will be again.
The construction supports during restoration.
The construction supports during restoration.

People all over the world love history. Are you a history buff? Do you love old architecture, including bridges? Please feel free to share any information you may have about these bridges, or covered bridges in general. Thank you for visiting, and please let me know you stopped by.

© 2011 MariaMontgomery

People Love Covered Bridges

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    • MariaMontgomery profile imageAUTHOR

      MariaMontgomery 

      3 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      Thank you, Lee. They are quite special to me. I have always wanted to visit Ireland, and hope to get there someday.

    • profile image

      Lee Cloak 

      3 years ago

      These are spectacular, full of character, we've nothing in the way of bridges like this in Ireland, a really great hub, thanks for the education, voted up, Lee

    • MariaMontgomery profile imageAUTHOR

      MariaMontgomery 

      4 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      @Brite-Ideas: Me, too. You're right -- those landscapes bring our thoughts to a time when life was simpler and slower. Thank you for the squidlike and for your comment.

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 

      4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      love history, but especially love old covered bridges - it's a peaceful feeling looking at landscapes that feature these - beautiful page

    • MariaMontgomery profile imageAUTHOR

      MariaMontgomery 

      4 years ago from Central Florida, USA

      @tracy-arizmendi: Historic preservation and restoration are things close to my heart, so it was a joy visiting these old bridges, taking the photos, and thinking about the people whose daily lives were improved by having them. Thank you for visiting, and for your squidlike and comment.

    • tracy-arizmendi profile image

      Tracy Arizmendi 

      4 years ago from Northern Virginia

      It is wonderful these pieces of history are finally being restored to their former glory!!! Thank you for sharing!

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