ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Coldwater Covered Bridge, Alabama
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Coldwater Covered Bridge, Alabama
Coldwater Covered Bridge
Built in 1850, the Coldwater Covered Bridge now
stands at Oxford Lake Park in Oxford, Alabama. It is
the oldest "kissing bridge" in Alabama.
Coldwater Covered Bridge
The historic bridge is 63 feet
long and was moved to its
present site in Oxford from
nearby Coldwater in 1990.
Inside Coldwater Bridge
The covered bridge was built
using the Multiple King Post
through Truss design and is
on the National Register.
Coldwater Covered Bridge
The walking trail that circles
beautiful Oxford Lake now
passes across the old bridge.
Coldwater Covered Bridge & Oxford Lake - Oxford, Alabama
Alabama's Oldest Covered Bridge
Oxford Lake Park
One of the most beautiful city
parks in the world, Oxford
Lake Park was established in
1884 and is shadowed by the
mountains of Alabama.
Copyright 2010 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.
Built in 1850 (or as early as 1839 according
to some accounts), the beautiful Coldwater
Covered Bridge is noted landmark in Oxford,

Sometimes called "kissing bridges" because
they offered courting lovers a brief moment of
privacy as they passed through, covered
bridges are important parts of the history and
heritage of the South. Coldwater Covered
Bridge is the oldest surviving such structure
in Alabama.

Tradition holds that the bridge was built in
1850 by a former slave, possibly a forerunner
of the famed bridge-builder Horace King,
another freed slave who would build wooden
bridges throughout the Deep South. As such,
it is a landmark of black history in the South.

The bridge is 63 feet long and originally
spanned Coldwater Creek about 8 miles
east of its present location. It was moved to
Oxford to save it from loss in 1990.

From the earliest days of settlement in this
part of Alabama, Coldwater Creek was a
major obstacle to travelers. A beautiful
rushing stream, it could rise rapidly and was
all but impossible to cross after heavy rains
or during times of high water.

The solution was a bridge. Some sources
indicate a bridge was built across the creek
in 1839, immediately after the Creek Nation
was forcibly removed from Alabama to what
is now Oklahoma. Whether this bridge was
the covered bridge that still stands is not
known. The present structure is known to
have been in place by around 1850.

Covered bridges held important advantages
over traditional open spans. They were
stronger due to their design and the roof
protected the flooring and beams from rotting
away in the elements.

The Coldwater Covered Bridge was built
using the Multiple Open King Post through
Truss design, a architectural method used in
many kinds of construction and even in some
types of aircraft. Basically, this means that
heavy posts were raised on the cross beams
of the bridge to support the apex or top of
triangles formed by the trusses.

The bridge was used by local residents until
around 1920 when it was partially damaged
by fire. A careful check found that it was still
sound and could be repaired. Once those
repairs were done, the bridge returned to
service until it was eventually replaced by a
modern concrete bridge.

After its replacement, the old covered bridge
was not maintained and eventually fell into a
bad state of disrepair.
The Coldwater Covered Bridge was already
in bad shape by the time it was listed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Community minded citizens intervened to
save the historic structure, however, and it
was moved to its present location in 1990.
Beautifully restored, it now bridges the creek
that flows out of Oxford Lake. It is a key
feature of Oxford Lake Park, one of the most
beautiful city parks int he world.

Established in 1884, Oxford Lake Park is a
beautiful setting. The centerpiece lake has
long been a focal point for activities in Oxford
and was once the scene of an amusement
park. It is well known for its Fourth of July
fireworks displays that draw people from
near and far.

A paved walking path follows the shore of the
lake and a short loop allows walkers to cross
the historic bridge. Alabama's tallest point,
Mt. Cheaha, rises on the southern horizon.

The bridge and park are less than five
minutes off Interstate 20 between Atlanta and
Birmingham. Just take Exit 185 onto State
Highway 21 North (Oxford/Anniston exit) and
take the immediate right onto Recreational
Drive. Follow the drive around to the Oxford
Civic Center Parking lot and you will see the
park and bridge.  There is no charge to visit.  
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