Duncan Bridge

Last Updated: 1/21/2019 3:53 PM


Built in 1900 across the Sipsey River at the Walker & Winston County lines, the structure was once the pride of the two counties, standing 90 feet above the fast moving waters.  The land for the bridge was donated by James �Jim� Duncan, hence the name �Duncan Bridge�.  He and his son, Henry, helped with the construction of the bridge.  �The sills were 90% heart of yellow pine� recalls Mr. Luther M. Elmore.  Mr. Elmore was employed to haul the lumber from a sawmill in Jasper to the bridge sight.  Each load had to be moved with a 4-mule team and a lumber wagon.  The path was down a dirt road, where they had to stop several times to cut trees so the long sills could go around the curves in the road.  The old wooden frame shook when a heavy load crossed it.  The last vehicle ever to cross Duncan Bridge probably did so early on the morning of 01/04/1961, as the State Department officially closed the ancient span and began preparations to tear it down.  The traffic was routed via Double Springs.  A ferry was put in several days later to transport vehicles across the river.  Those arrangements were only temporary until the new bridge could be built.  The new bridge was constructed a little distance up-river from the old one, with piers 200 feet high to reach above the expected water line after the Lewis Smith Dam was built.  The Corps of Engineers estimated that the lake would fill in 3 years, so the salvage company, which was to tear down the wooden bridge, was not in any hurry to do so.  The 60 year old bridge was to have been torn down thinking it would be in the way of boats traveling the river.  That spring was an exceptionally wet one, and the lake was nearly filled in 3 months, covering the old bridge.  The old bridge is still under the waters of Smith Lake.  The 50 year fill mark was reached in less than five years.

Before 1961