History of Bellamy Bridge
www.bellamybridge.org
History of Bellamy Bridge

By Dale Cox

The site of historic Bellamy Bridge has been used as a
crossing point on the upper Chipola River for hundreds of years.

The first recorded crossing of the river in the vicinity was by the
expedition of Spanish explorer Marcos Delgado in 1686. He
reported leaving what is now called Blue Springs and passing
around the head of a smaller spring (Baltzell Spring) before
arriving at the Chipola River. There the water was about six feet
deep and the horses and men were able to swim across. The
Bellamy Bridge vicinity is the only area on the upper Chipola
that matches the geographic descriptions of Delgado's journal.

During the First Seminole War of 1817-1818, the people of the
Lower Creek town of Ekanachatte used the area along the west
side of the Chipola River as a hiding place for both themselves
and their livestock. Their primary town was to the east at Neal's
Landing on the Chattahoochee River. In March 1818, however,
U.S. forces under Brig. Gen. William McIntosh attacked their
"camp" on the Chipola, killing 10 warriors and capturing more
than 180 men, women and children.

This event is remembered as the Battle of the Upper Chipola
and military reports indicate it took place on the west side of the
river, two miles below the Forks of the Creek where the Chipola
is formed. The Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail is located at the
same distance below the forks and the battlefield must be
somewhere in its vicinity.

The future site of the bridge remained an important crossing
point as early American settlers came into the region beginning
in around 1819. An early road leading from the Spring Creek
settlement to Blue Springs and on to the Chattahoochee River
crossed the Chipola here and can be seen on maps dating as
far back as the 1820s.

Dr. Edward C. Bellamy purchased the land where Bellamy
Bridge stands today and moved there with his wife, Ann, in
1836. He was the brother-in-law and she the sister of Elizabeth
Jane Croom Bellamy, the centerpiece of the Bellamy Bridge
ghost legend.  
Please click here for more information.

Bellamy owned the property until the eve of the War Between
the States and operated it under the name "Terre Bonne
Plantation." He initially farmed sugar, rice, cotton and other
subsistence crops on the land, but eventually concentrated
strictly on the production of sea island cotton. The area now
covered by the floodplain forest was once open fields.

The first wooden bridge was built in 1851 by Dr. Horace Ely and
Bird B. Hathaway. At the same the Jackson County Board of
Commissioners authorized the building of a road from near
Campbellton to Port Jackson on the Chattahoochee River. It
crossed the Chipola via the new bridge.

Confederate troops guarded the span from Union raiders and,
more significantly, gangs of deserter outlaws that frequented
the area. It was never attacked, but was an important way for
both civilians and soldiers to cross the river throughout the War
Between the States.

The elements took their toll on the wooden bridge, which was
called "Bellamy's Bridge" in early county records. A replacement
bridge was completed in 1872, but lasted only two years before
it was swept away during a major flood of the Chipola River.

A third wooden bridge was built in 1874 and lasted until the
historic steel-frame structure seen today was built in 1914. The
1874 bridge was standing when the Marianna newspaper first
mentioned the ghost in a brief article in 1890.

The steel-frame bridge standing today was built in 1914 by
Converse Bridge & Steel Company for $2,389. It is 119 feet
long and is the oldest bridge of its type in Florida. Bellamy
Bridge also ranks as one of the ten oldest standing bridges in
the state.

The current structure remained in use as a crossing point until
the nearby concrete bridge on CR 162 was completed in 1963.
It has been closed to vehicular traffic since then and the
wooden flooring planks have fallen into the river. The steel
frame of the bridge, however, remains largely intact.

The Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail was opened to provide
public access to the structure on November 1, 2012. It is open
to the public daily during daylight hours. Nighttime access is by
guided tour only, which can be arranged by using the "Contact
Us" button at the top of this page or leaving a message at
850-693-1580.

For more information on the history of Bellamy Bridge, please
read
The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge. It is available in both print
and Kindle formats by following these links and all proceeds
benefit the trail project:
Florida's Most Famous Ghost Story

The legend of the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge
is perhaps Florida's most famous ghost
story. The ghost of a young woman named
Elizabeth Jane Bellamy has been seen in
the bridge vicinity for more than 120 years.
Click Here to Read the Story!
The "Other" Ghosts of Bellamy Bridge

Three other ghost stories are told about the
bridge and its vicinity. All originate from the
early 1900s and add an additional air of
mystery to historic Bellamy Bridge. They
surround three untimely deaths.
Click here to Read More!
Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail

The site of Bellamy Bridge has been used
as a place for crossing the Chipola River for
hundreds of years. Spanish documents
indicate that the expedition of Marcos
Delgado crossed the river here in 1686.
Read about Marcos Delgado at Bellamy!
Battle of the Upper Chipola

An important battle of the First Seminole
War was fought near the Bellamy Bridge
Heritage Trail in March 1818. U.S. Creek
troops, led by Brig. Gen. William McIntosh,
attacked the Red Ground chief here.
Read about the Forgotten Battle.
Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail

Learn more about the new Bellamy Bridge
Heritage Trail, print out the self-guided tour
brochure and take a look at photographs
and video of this great new Florida heritage
attraction!
Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail Info
I SAW THE GHOST!
I SAW THE GHOST! by BellamyBridge
Ghost of Bellamy Bridge Mug
Ghost of Bellamy Bridge Mug by BellamyBridge
The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge (Kindle $9.95)
The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge (Book $19.95)