Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge, Woodbury Georgia

Date added: February 13, 2024 Categories: Georgia Covered Bridges Town Lattice Truss
Looking southwest (1972)

The Red Oak Covered Bridge, possibly the oldest covered bridge in Georgia, is of the Town lattice type and is thought to have been built by Horace King in 1840. Still in use, the Red Oak Covered Bridge is an outstanding reminder of the age when there were over 250 covered bridges in Georgia.

This lattice bridge type, designed by Ithiel Town of New Haven, Connecticut, was patented in 1820. Town realized the need for a covered bridge truss which could be quickly built by a good carpenter. It has been described as the first truly American design and consisted of a web of light planks fastened together with wooden pins or trunnels at each intersection. An average of 5,536 hand-drilled holes are required for each 100 feet of bridge and 1680 hand-made pins or trunnels one inch to two inches in diameter. are needed to fasten the members. Sometimes square pegs or trunnels were driven in round holes to give an even tighter joint. Town did not build or supervise these bridges himself. Instead, he collected through agents from the builder at the rate of one dollar a foot.

The actual builder was probably Horace King, a slave born in 1807 in South Carolina. He was given his freedom in 1848, but continued to work for his former master, John Godwin, a contractor. King built a bridge across the Chattahoochee at Columbus and spent much time in West Georgia building numerous other bridges. He moved c.1874 to the LaGrange, Georgia area where he continued contracting and building bridges. His three sons John, Marshall, and Washington followed his trade.

Of the 22 remaining covered bridges in Georgia, Red Oak Covered Bridge, one of two in Meriwether County, was in possible danger from the proposed Sprewell Bluff Dam.

Bridge Description

The Red Oak Covered Bridge is the Town lattice type, probably built by Horace King c.1840. This Town lattice type of bridge construction, so named after the Connecticut architect, Ithiel Town, who patented the design in 1820, consists of planks arranged in a crisscross lattice pattern, pegged at their joints and attached to spliced horizontal timbers which form the girders for the span.

The physical statistics for the Red Oak Covered Bridge are as follows: the covered portion of the bridge is 116 feet; its total span is 412 feet (the longest total span of a covered bridge in Georgia); the long sills, sawed from heart pine, are 15" x 15" thick, and approximately 2500 pegs hold this truss together.

Red Oak Creek Covered Bridge, Woodbury Georgia Looking southwest (1972)
Looking southwest (1972)