Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites

These views of the interior of the bridge show the Town lattice truss system which supports the bridge. Almost all of these massive beams are the original beams from when the bridge was constructed in 1885.

  Watson Mill Covered Bridge was constructed in 1885 by W. (Washington) W. King. He was the son of Horace King who was also a famous covered bridge builder in the South who built many bridges across the Chattahoochee River. Horace King was also a former slave who was so good at his craft in carpentry and so well respected that his former slave owner made it possible for him to be a free man. When Washington built Watson Mill Bridge, the cost of construction was just over $3,000. Most of the lattice work on the inside of the bridge is original. At the bottom of these massive timbers numbers can still be seen which were used to show the construction crew where each piece was to go when constructing the bridge. The bridge was renovated in 1970 when the park service took over its care. The roof and weather boarding were replaced during the renovation. The lattice system is also called a truss system and it supports the bridge. This particular kind of truss system, called the Townlattice system, is typical of many covered bridge truss systems because it is so strong.

The main question that people want to know the answer to is "Why were bridges built as covered bridges?" There is only one true answer and it is a very practical one. Covered bridges were built so the supporting timbers on the inside, the parts that actually support the bridge, would last a long time. As can be seen, this concept did work well as the Watson Mill Bridge is over 100 years old. The major reason these bridges were constructed out of wood is that it was the most economical and available material at the time they were constructed. Now there have been other stories that suggest other reasons for covered bridges being covered, such as the one that says "horses think they are going into a barn and not crossing a bridge over the river - therefore they aren't afraid to make the crossing." And, of course, the old saying, "because folks could get out of the rain."

These bridges are truly relics of the past. At one time there were over 200 covered bridges in Georgia. Now there are less than 15. Most of them went by the wayside for progress - when a new "modern" concrete bridge was constructed, the old covered bridge was often disassembled and disposed of as it was replaced or sometimes left in place beside the "new" bridge and neglected to simply fall to the forces of the natural elements and time.

Free Mobile App! eNews GeorgiaAmerica's State Parks