Blount County, Alabama is home to three historic covered bridges while being just thirty miles from downtown Birmingham. It’s a beautiful drive through the rolling hills and back roads of the rural Alabama back country. For history buffs or those who enjoy exploring the roads lesser traveled of our nation, these bridges are a beautiful tribute to a bygone era. Known as the Covered Bridge Capital of Alabama, Blount County is also proud to host the Annual Covered Bridge Festival.
Covered bridges were once important to transportation across the region. Before the development of modern concrete and steel construction techniques, wood was the primary building available to bridge builders. Because wooden bridges quickly deteriorated due to exposure to rain, snow
and the elements, the idea of adding a cover became popular as a way of protecting the bridge floors and extending the life of the structures.
The Covered Bridges of Blount County, Alabama
- Swann Covered Bridge: Located in Cleveland, Alabama, it spans 324 feet and is situated high above the rocky riverbed of the Black Warrior River. It was built around 1933 and is the longest covered bridge still in existence in the state. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is open to car traffic. It is a beautiful and historic landmark that is well worth a visit if you are passing anywhere near the area.
It stretches across a deep canyon with massive limestone bluffs. The gorge was carved by the Locust Fork, which makes its way through the mountain country to become a major tributary of the Warrior River. The three span bridge was built by Forrest and Zelmer C. Tidwell to connect the Blount County communities of Cleveland and Joy. Since it was located on property owned by Swann Farms, it was generally called the Swann Bridge, although some residents also called it the Joy Bridge became it was on the road leading to Joy.
- Old Easley Covered Bridge: Located in Rosa, Alabama, 1.5 mi. from U.S. 231 in Blount County, this one-span town bridge built in 1927 and is the oldest of all Blount County bridges. Tin-covered and in fairly good repair, all 95 feet of its single span are preserved for enthusiastic back-wood travelers or for those searching for treasure of a nostalgic era. The bridge spans the Dub Branch, Calvert Prong of the Little Warrior River
Alabama was once home to more than 35 covered bridges, but most disappeared over the years due to deterioration, neglect, arson or vandalism. Today, eleven covered bridges can still be seen in the state. Those persistent engineering marvels that remain have become popular tourist attractions, giving visitors insight into the needs and hardships of our ancestors.
Visit the Friends of the Covered Bridges of Alabama site and download a copy of a map of the area, along with pictures and information. The bridges are close enough together that you can see all three in about an hour.
- Horton Mill Bridge: Built in 1934, it holds the distinction of being the highest covered bridge above any waterway in the United States. It stands 70 feet above the Calvert Prong of the Black Warrior River. It’s located on a river crossover (Horton Mill Road) to Ebell Road and Covered Bridge Circle off State Route 75 about 5 miles (8 kilometers) north of the city of Oneonta.
Blount County celebrates its roots each year with the annual Blount County Covered Bridge Festival. It offers many events and diverse activities including a pancake breakfast, arts and crafts, a 5K and Fun Run, car show, river walk, food, entertainment, quilt show, a living history event, a haunted library and more.
The Horton Covered Bridge is just a little ways down the mountain from Palisades Park, which offers a relaxing atmosphere with scenic views atop of Ebell Mountain. Palisades Park is located in the foothills of the Southern Appalachians. The Appalachian Mountains stretch from Maine to north central Alabama and this is one of the best views in the state.