Saturday, December 4, 2010

Field Trip: Oglethorpe County, Howard’s Covered Bridge

I always think of New England when I think of covered bridges. I didn’t know that there were 15-16 covered bridges – web resources differ in numbers – in Georgia until a couple of weeks ago when I was researching Elder’s Mill Covered Bridge. There are several covered bridges in our general area. Watkin’s Mill Covered Bridge in Oglethorpe County to the east of Athens is probably the best known since it is located in Watkin’s Mill State Park.

Howard’s Covered Bridge, previously known as Big Clouds Creek Bridge, is less well-known although it’s only about 8 to 9 miles west of Watkin’s Mill State Park and it’s only a slight detour from the route that you would probably take from Athens to Watkin’s Mill State Park.

The easiest route to reach the bridge from Athens is to drive to Winterville and take Smithsonia Road to Beaverdam Road and east on Beaverdam Road to Smithsonia. At Smithsonia, just past the Tucker Plantation, turn south on Smithsonia Road and east on Chandler Silver Road just before crossing the bridge over Big Cloud’s Creek. Because it was a ‘game day’ – a University of Georgia ‘at home’ football game – we drove from Watkinsville to Lexington and north on GA-22 to its intersection with Collier Church Road. We turned west on Collier Church Road and then south on Chandler Silver Road which we followed through to the bridge.

You can’t miss the bridge. The bridge is right beside the road and there is a wide approach to it that offers plenty of parking. In addition, there is an historical marker by the road.

Chandler Silver Road looking to the west from the bridge. The stop sign at Smithsonia Road is visible in this photo.

Chandler Silver Road looking east from the bridge.

The historical marker at the site. The marker doesn’t note that this was the longest span – 130 feet – between the stonework piers until additional supports were installed.

Looking directly towards the bridge from the south side (furthest from the road).

The bridge from the northwest. The stonework piers are visible as are two sets of additional supports.

A closer view of the additional supports

A couple of the trunnels, or wooden pegs, used to secure the timbers. These are similar to those at Elder’s Mill Covered Bridge.

Looking upstream, west, at Big Cloud’s Creek from the bridge. I was surprised that this was the upstream view since I thought that the creek flowed to the Oconee River. However this creed is in the Broad River watershed. The creek flows east and then north to empty into the Broad River.

Looking downstream, east, at Big Cloud’s Creek from the bridge.

It’s a good idea to research maps before making trips, The diagrams provided at various websites are stylized. Sometimes, road names change at intersections and may be different from those on local signs. Coming from Lexington, we could have saved several miles by taking the Smithsonia Rd turn north from GA-22.

Click on an image to view a larger image


- Georgia’s Covered Bridges: Howard’s Bridge

- Georgia Department of Transportation: Howard’s Bridge

Related posts:

- Field Trip: Oconee-Greene County. Part 1, Elders Mill Covered Bridge

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