The covered wood bridges in North Georgia are historic structures and many of them are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. At any time in history, bridges across rivers have always been among the most complicated and difficult structures to build. Wooden bridges were covered because a roof adds structural strength and stability to any building by securing the walls, and increased structural stability meant that longer bridges could be built. An additional benefit of the roof covering is weather protection of the floor where traffic occurs and therefore covered wood bridges last longer than uncovered wood bridges.
The most famous builder of wood bridges in Georgia was Horace King, a former slave from South Carolina who learned the art of bridge building from his owner, John Godwin. After Godwin’s death in 1859, three of Horace King’s sons joined him in a construction business that was highly respected throughout Georgia. Horace King’s son, Washington W. King, built many bridges in Georgia that still exist but the only existing bridge built by Horace King in Georgia is the Red Oak Creek Bridge, which is located about 10 miles north of Manchester off State Road 85 in Meriwether County. Red Oak Creek Bridge is one of the longest covered wood bridges in Georgia because there is a 250 ft. timber decked approach on one end and the unsupported span is 115 ft. long. Built during the 1840’s by Horace King, Red Oak Creek Bridge is Georgia’s oldest covered wood bridge.
The Stone Mountain Covered Bridge was built by Washington W. King. Originally constructed in 1891, it was 162 ft. long but after it was damaged during a flood in 1963 and lost 11 feet of length, it was sold for $1, moved to its current site in Stone Mountain Park and added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1974. The 151 ft. Stone Mountain Covered Bridge was at various times known as Effie’s Bridge (named after a local bordello), College Avenue Bridge and Oconee River Bridge. The Euharlee Creek Bridge on Highway 113 near Cartersville was also built by Washington W. King. It was constructed in 1886 and it is 138 ft. long.
Other famous covered wood bridges in North Georgia
The Watson Mill Bridge at Watson Mill Bridge State Park in Comer is unique because bridges were historically associated with mills for power but in the case of the Watson Mill Bridge, the mill and the bridge are one continuous structure. Built in 1880, the Watson Mill Bridge is 229 ft. long. The 132 ft. Cromer’s Mill Bridge on State Road 106 in Franklin County is similar to the Watson Mill Bridge because it was built near a mill where a small community existed in 1906.
The Stovall Mill Bridge was built in 1895 and it spans 37 ft. across one of the two Chickamauga Creeks in north Georgia. It is located next to State Route 255 near the City of Helen. The 132 ft. Concord Covered Bridge was built in 1872 and it is part of the Concord Covered Bridge Historic Area in Cobb County. The Concord Covered Bridge Historic Area also contains an intact miller’s house, remnants from a Civil War battle at Ruff’s Mill and parts of the original grist mill. Other covered wood bridges in North Georgia include the 100 ft. Elder’s Mill Covered Bridge in Watkinsville near Athens that was built in 1897; the 95 ft. Poole’s Mill Bridge built in1901in Cumming; the 168 ft. Howard’s Bridge in Comer built in 1905; and the 34 ft. Lula Covered Bridge in Gainesville near Lake Lanier, which was built in 1915.