Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge
This covered bridge in Early County Georgia, 2 miles north of Hilton, was built in 1891 by craftsman J. W. Baughman and thirty-six workers under the orders of the Early County Board of Commissioners. Built to a cost of $490.41, the bridge is 140 feet long and 14 feet wide, topped with a corrugated metal roof 15 feet above. On May 13th, 1975, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2000 a historical marker was added by the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration. Today the bridge is blocked by a gate and is not accessible to the public for safety reasons.
Backstory and Context
On May 2nd, 1883, the Early County Board of Commissioners established a commission to inquire how practical the construction of a bridge across Coheelee Creek would be at McDonald Ford. Later that year the commission approved the construction of the bridge, however, construction was delayed until 1891.
The bridge was eventually built in 1891 by J. W. Baughman and thirty-six workers. The building process took only four months and cost $490.41, making it impressive that the bridge still stands today. The covered bridge is built-in Early County Georgia, 2 miles north of Hilton. The bridge stands at 140 feet long and 14 feet wide, with the covered roof measuring at 15 feet high. The bridge is built with a king post truss design, a horizontal cross piece extending across a center post flanked by compression timbers slanting down and outwards with a set of iron rods slanting down and inwards. Concrete abutments were added in 1958 to reinforce the approaches and entrances to the bridge. The bridge itself rests on three concrete pillars.
On September 3rd, 1957, the Board of Commissioners of Roads and Revenue of Early County assigned the Peter Early chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution the task of being custodians for the bridge and started a protection program for the bridge. In 1958 the Georgia Historical Commission erected a marker for the bridge on nearby Georgia Highway No. 62 at the intersection with the old road.
In April of 1971, the upper part of the bridge was damaged by the top of a produce truck that was too tall to fit. The bridge survived the incident and was repaired before returning to service. On May 13th, 1976, the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1980 another marker was erected by the Historic Chattahoochee Commission and the Early County Historical Society. By 1984 the bridge started to see major disrepair and the nearby citizens of Early County started an expensive and far-sighted restoration project to keep the bridge intact. In 2000 another historical marker was placed in the vicinity of the bridge.
Today the bridge is blocked by a gate and is not accessible to the public for safety reasons. It stands as one of the 17 remaining covered bridges left in Georgia and has joined the ranks of the covered bridges no longer suitable for driving traffic.
Bogle, James G.. Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge, National Register of Historic Places. May 13th 1976. Accessed November 30th 2020. https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=93741707-acb1-4915-9f8b-b89c45bcbf1d.
Cox, Dale. Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge - Early County, Georgia, ExploreSouthernHistory.com. January 1st 2011. Accessed November 30th 2020. https://www.exploresouthernhistory.com/coheelee1.html.
Seibert, David. Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge, Historical Marker Database. July 16th 2016. Accessed November 30th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=14850.
Seibert, David. Coheelee Creek Covered Bridge / Fannie Askew Williams Park, Historical Marker Database. June 14th 2020. Accessed November 30th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=8503.
Seibert, David. Covered Bridge 2 Mi. <-----<<<, Historical Marker Database. June 16th 2016. Accessed November 30th 2020. https://www.hmdb.org/m.asp?m=48327.
Photo taken by David Seibert. Photo sourced from HMDB.org: https://www.hmdb.org/PhotoFullSize.asp?PhotoID=26057