Horton Mill Covered Bridge
The Horton Mill Covered Bridge is a state owned wooden covered bridge that spans the Calvert Prong of the Little Warrior River in Blount County, Alabama, United States. It is 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. Coordinates are 34.007644, -86.448625.
Built in 1934, the 220-foot (67-meter) bridge is a Town Lattice truss construction over two spans. Its WGCB number is 01-05-07. The Horton Mill Covered Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 29, 1970, the first covered bridge in the southeastern United States to be added. At 70 feet (21 m), it is the highest covered bridge above any U.S. waterway. It was reopened as of late 2009 after being closed in 2007 due to vandalism. Safety concerns remain an issue though, so the bridge can be closed again at any time (see section below). The bridge is currently not open to motor vehicle traffic. The Horton Mill Covered Bridge is maintained by the Alabama Historical Commission, Blount County Commission and the Alabama Department of Transportation.
The original Horton Mill Covered Bridge was built in 1894 at the foot of Sand Mountain, about 3/4 mile (1 kilometer) downstream from the current bridge. It was named for a local business owned by Thurman M. Horton, who helped construct the first bridge. This bridge allowed residents of Sand Mountain a better means of access to nearby Oneonta as well as to Horton's mill and general store which were located along the east side of the Calvert Prong.
Construction of the current Horton Mill Covered Bridge began in 1934 over a deep gorge cut by the river, led by Talmedge Horton...a family descendent of Thurman Horton. It took a 15-man crew 1½ years to complete the project. This crew included Zelmer C. Tidwell and his uncle, Forrest Tidwell, who helped in building three other prominent covered bridges in Blount County (Easley, Nectar, Swann). The bridge was fully restored in 1974 by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Blount County Commission. It is one of three historic covered bridges remaining in Blount County.
The Horton Mill Covered Bridge was reported closed to motor traffic on September 27, 2007 due to unsafe conditions. According to a member on the photo website Flickr as well as a report from the The Blount Countian, vandals attempted to remove some of the roof supports on the west side of the bridge by tying a cable or chain around them and attached the other end to either a tow hitch or hook...using a vehicle to try and pull them out, causing significant damage. A photo showing the damaged end of the Horton Mill Covered Bridge can be seen by clicking the reference link to Flickr below. The bridge was reopened to motor vehicle traffic in 2009 although significant maintenance is still needed and the bridge can be closed again at any time. It is unknown as to when the bridge will undergo necessary repairs.
The Blount County Commission is currently working to secure funds for structural analysis and conservation of its three remaining covered bridges. The other two covered bridges in Blount County were closed to motor vehicle traffic in 2009 due to safety concerns. According to signs posted on the nearby Easley Covered Bridge, the Blount County Commission is being criticized for lack of maintenance to its covered bridges over recent years.