Covered bridges: They are picturesque, they harken to a long-ago, simpler time, and they are great places to visit.
Alabama has 11 historic covered bridges remaining in the state, along with a few newer, decorative bridges.
Only three of the oldest bridges allow cars to cross. Fortunately, all of those are short drives from Huntsville.
I must warn you – driving across one of these historic covered bridges is a very unique experience. They are basically a wooden deck with heavier wooden planks known as runners for the cars to drive on. This means that they are one lane, and only one vehicle can be on the bridge at a time. They sure are beautiful, though.
Bridges Open to Vehicle Traffic
- Easly Bridge in rural Blount County near the Rosa community was built in 1927. It was restored and re-opened to traffic in 2012. The 95-foot-long bridge spans Dub Creek.
- Horton Mill Bridge near Oneonta in Blount County was built in 1934. It was renovated and opened to vehicle traffic in 2012. This bridge is 220 feet long. At 70 feet above the Warrior River, it is the highest covered bridge over any waterway in the United States.
- Swann Bridge in rural Blount County near Cleveland was built in 1933. It was renovated and open to vehicle traffic in 2012. This bridge is 324 feet long and is the longest covered bridge in Alabama. It crosses the Black Warrior River.
Bridges Open to Foot Traffic or Viewing
- Clarkson-Legg Bridge in rural Cullman County near the Bethel community was built in 1904. It was rebuilt in 1920, and today serves as a walking bridge. This bridge is 270 feet long and traverses Crooked Creek.
- Old Union Crossing Bridge in Mentone in DeKalb County was built in 1863 by the Union army during the Civil War. In 1972, the 90-foot-long bridge was moved to span a portion of the Little River. It now serves as pedestrian and horse bridge between the Shady Grove Dude Ranch and Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort.
- Gilliland-Reese Bridge in Gadsden in Etowah County was built in 1899 on a local plantation, but in 1967 the bridge was moved to Noccalula Falls Park, where it is open to visitors (the park charges admission). The bridge is 85 feet long and spans a small pond in the park near Black Creek.
- Salem-Shotwell Bridge in Opelika in Lee County was built in 1900, but it was damaged in 2005. A portion of it was re-built at the Opelika Municipal Park as a pedestrian bridge. The original bridge was 76 feet long going over Wacoochee Creek. The re-built portion of the bridge is only 43 feet long.
- Coldwater Bridge in Oxford in Calhoun County was built sometime between 1839 and 1850 (the history varies on this one). In 1990, the bridge was moved to Oxford Lake Park where it is accessible by the public during park hours. This is the oldest covered bridge in Alabama.
- Alamuchee-Bellamy Bridge in Livingston in Sumter County was built in 1861 on the main road between Livingston and York. In 1971, the bridge was moved to the University of West Alabama campus. The bridge is 88 feet long and originally spanned the Sucarnoochee River, but now it serves as a pedestrian bridge.
- Kymulga Bridge in Childersburg in Talladega County was built in 1861 along with the Kymulga Gristmill located beside it. Both the bridge and the mill were restored in 1974 and today are a historical park. The bridge is 105 feet long and spans Talladega Creek. The bridge is accessible to the public, but the park does charge an entrance fee.
- Waldo Bridge near the community of Waldo in Talladega County was built in 1858 and condemned by the state in the mid-1960s, and has since been maintained very little. The bridge is 115 feet long and crosses Talladega Creek. Located behind the Old Mill Restaurant, visitors can walk the grounds to see the bridge with permission from the restaurant. This bridge is inaccessible to the public though, and is considered unsafe.