Alabama's Covered Bridges
The Swann-Joy Bridge, Blount County, Alabama
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
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 BridgeClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Swann-Joy Bridge
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 BridgeClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Easly-Rosa Bridge
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 BridgeClick thumbnail to view full-size
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