The Heritage of Daniel Haston


The Caney Fork of the Cumberland
Bridges Above Great Falls - Pages 28-33
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Bridges Above Great Falls

Bridges Map - Great Falls Development

The first settlers were dependent on small boats and fords as a means of crossing the rivers.  Fords on the Caney Fork River were usable about half the time.  As traffic increased it soon became necessary to operate ferries or build bridges.  Tolls were charged on both.  The ferries came first.  The Rock Island and the Dillon ferries were the first to be put in operation as the volume of traffic increased rapidly.  Probably the first two bridges on the upper Caney Fork were built soon after 1814.

The names have been listed alphabetically.  No attempt has been made to list the modern bridges built since 1930.  There were a number of small structures on the minor tributaries which are not on the list.

McMinnville (Hgw. 108 to Viola) crossing Barren Fork 6.75 miles above the mouth. 

This also carried traffic to Manchester, Hgw. 55, for many years.  In a deed from John L. Spurlock to the McMinnville & Manchester Railroad in 1858 there is a reference to "a bridge built by the County."  This probably was a wooden bridge.  Later an Iron bridge was built just below the present Railroad bridge and the power dam.  This was replaced several years ago.  For additional information on this bridge see page 34 of the book (or go to the next website page) .

Beersheba Bridge across Barren Fork 5.8 miles above the mouth on the Beersheba Road.

According to John Argo the first bridge was located at the upper end of the bluff at the lower end of nursery bottom and below the present bridge.  It was never completed but persons could walk across it.  It apparently was washed out in the flood of 1872 while under construction.  An "iron bridge" built shortly before 1902 was destroyed by the 1902 flood.  John Argo said the new bridge was built by the County after an agreement was made that others would be built in other parts of the County.  Bridges built at the same time over Hickory Creek, Lusk Ford (Hgw. 70S) and Hennessee ford were destroyed in the same flood.  Following the flood the bridges were all replaced.  The 1928 flood again washed out the Beersheba bridge.

Blanks Bridge crossing Rocky River 2.8 miles above the mouth was built by

The Tennessee Electric Power Co. [T.E.P.Co.] in 1916 when the Rock Island dam was built.  It is located a short distance up stream from the old Blanks Mill dam.  The bridge was raised and lengthened in 1924 when the Rock Island dam was raised.

Brady-Haston Bridge crossing the Calfkiller River 3 miles above the mouth and just

below a spring branch on which the mill of the same name was located.  The bridge was built by the County in the early part of the 20th. century and was first called "Johnson's Bridge" after the owner of the mill at that time.  The bridge was raised in 1924 when the Rock Island dam was raised.  The Brady-Haston bridge served as a crossing for the wagon road from Hickory Valley to Rock Island.  It is mentioned in an 1862 deed to Joseph W. Taylor.

Webmaster note: The bridge was partially named for Carroll Haston, son of Charles Thomas Haston, son of William Carroll Haston, son of David Haston, son of Daniel Haston.

Butts Bridge crossing Caney Fork 19 miles above the Dam.  The bridge was built in

1924 by the T.E.P.Co.  Raising the dam 35 feet flooded out the Butts and adjacent fords.  The bridge was washed out in the 1929 flood and replaced by the Power Co.

Cave Foot Bridge [at Cave, TN] across Calfkiller River 4.2 miles above the mouth of the river. 

The suspension bridge was built in 1924 by the T.E.P.Co. to replace an old bridge at a lower level.  It is located just upstream from the Burroughs & Taylor Factory. This company made men's work clothes.

Chattanooga Foot Bridge crossing Caney Fork River 20.9 miles above the Rock Island dam

is very close to the old Chattanooga Ford.  The suspension bridge was built in 1924 by the T.E.P.Co.  It was washed out in the 1929 flood.

Webmaster note:  This foot bridge ("swinging" or "wire" bridge) was rebuilt after the 1929 flood and was in use for several years.  It was located behind Fraiser's Chapel Methodist Church.  A Boy Scout camp was located at the site of the bridge and ford, some time prior to the mid-1950s.  In the early 1960s, Wayne Haston and a friend walked across this bridge carrying hunting guns.  The bridge was in a dangerous state of disrepair at that time.  The cables were rusty and the existing floor planks were rotting and some of the planks were completely gone.  In the 1950s, Dave Guy (who lived north of the river in "Fox Hollow") was employed, as needed, to keep the bridge in good repair.  Apparently, no one replaced him on this task when he moved his family to upper Hickory Valley.  By that time, many of the families in that community had automobiles and could get from one side of the river to the other by means of Butts Bridge.

Collins River Bridge spans the Collins River at its mouth.  The first bridge was a timber

structure.  It was built by Asa Faulkner in connection with the erection of the Falls City Cotton Mill.  Mr. Faulkner employed James McGiboney to build and operate a saw mill and grist mill at the Great Falls before he began work on the Cotton Mill.  McGiboney sawed out all the timbers for the bridge.  This bridge was destroyed in the 1902 flood.  The next bridge was a steel structure erected in connection with the construction of the first dam and power house for the Tennessee Power Co.  The third bridge was erected  in 1923-24 by the T.E.P.Co. in connection with raising the dam 35 feet.  Perhaps of interest is the fact that the longest span in the bridge had one time been part of a bridge across the Cumberland River in Nashville.  The structure was dismantled and stored by the Nashville Bridge Company.

Dillon Bridge crossing Caney Fork River about 4 miles above the Dam.  This was one of the

two earliest bridges on the upper Caney Fork.

The bridge had 3 spans resting on rock-filled log cribs.  Joe Slatton said that 2 of the piers were visible in 1920 when the reservoir level was very low.  There is a reference to a "valuable bridge" in White Co. deed bk. O, p. 276-77 in 1846.  On pages 166-67 of the same book in 1851 there is a reference to "ferry and boats."  By that time the bridge was probably out of service.  Florence Woods said the last man to cross the bridge was a peddler name Redder.  The bridge had become "very ramshackle" and it fell as he was crossing.  His horse "Doc" carried him over but Redder had a nervous breakdown and was laid up for several weeks.  The remains of the bridge were washed out in the flood of 1852.  Spence Frank told the writer that the bridge was very old.

Dam Bridge - This refers to the bridge built above the Rock Island Dam in 1915-16 crossing

Caney Fork.  When the Dam was raised 35 feet in 1924-25 the bridge was raised a like amount.  After all preparations had been made, including installation of new columns a crew of 250 men started from each end, racing to reach the center of the bridge first for a bonus of $500 to the winners.  The job was finished in 10 hours.

Double Bridges 17.4 miles above the Dam.  One bridge crossed Caney Fork above the mouth

of Cane Creek and the other crossed Cane Creek at the mouth of the creek.  Both bridges were raised in 1924-25 when the Dam was raised.  The bridge over Caney Fork was washed out in the 1929 flood and not replaced.  The bridges were referred to locally as the River Hill bridges.  The name is that of a small community that formerly was located on the hill above the river on the White County side.

Webmaster notes:  The bridge across the mouth of Cane Creek was still in decent shape as late as the early 1960s, and could be crossed by automobile at that time, although there was no where to go on the east side of the bridge except to turn around and go back across the same bridge.  At that time, the road that went around the east side of Cane Creek (along the western & southern edges of Fork Mountain) had been closed since probably just after the 1929 flood.

Dry Branch Bridge spans Dry Branch about 1/2 mile from the point where it joins the Caney

Fork.  It is in Van Buren County.  The steel was moved on barges from the Yost Bridge on Rocky River.  Dry Branch was built by the T.E.P.Co. in 1925.

Forsythe Bridge spans Forsythe Branch just above the junction with Dry Branch.  It was built

by the T.E.P.Co. in 1925.

Gillen Bridge spans Cane Creek 5.1 miles above the mouth of the creek.  It was built

by Van Buren County sometime prior to 1925.

Goodbar Bridges.  The first bridge was located about 125 feet below the old Goodbar Mill

Dam and about 8.9 miles above the mouth of Rocky River.  It was a covered wood bridge according to Miss Florence Wood.  She said it was built by Gumberry (?) Johnson, was very shaky and in fact it was never really built right.  It burned sometime prior to 1923.  The second bridge, located about 1/4 mile above the Goodbar Mill.  It was built in 1923 or 1924 by the State on Hgw. 30 from McMinnville to Spencer.  It was one of the first concrete arch bridges built in Tennessee.  Truly it is a beautiful structure.

Gribble Bridge spans Collins River abut 13.5 miles above the mouth.  It was built by

Warren County.

Hennessee Bridge crossing Collins River 8.2 miles above the mouth was one of four bridges

built by Warren County about 1900.  All four were washed down in the 1902 flood.  Nashville Bridge Co. salvaged the spans at Hennessee and rebuilt the bridge.  The flood of 1929 again dropped the three spans into the river.  The T.E.P.Co. had the bridge rebuilt.  One new span was purchased and two spans were salvaged out of the original three.  The writer understands that a new modern bridge was built at this location in the 1960's and one or more of the old spans were moved to another location.

Harrison's Ferry Bridge spans the Collins River in the upper reaches and in Warren County. 

The County built the bridge.  It was one of the few bridges not damaged in the 1929 flood.

Hash Ford Bridge on Rocky River.  See Yost Bridge.
Hodge Bridge crossing Caney Fork River 13.9 miles above the Dam and a few hundred feet

below the mouth of the Calfkiller River.  It is on the Doyle-Spencer Road.  The bridge was raised in 1924 by the T.E.P.Co.  It was partially destroyed in the 1929 flood and rebuilt by the Power Co.

Hgw. 70S at Rock Island is 1.1 miles above the Dam.  This bridge, crossing the Caney Fork,

was built in the 1920's by the State.  It is at the location of McClures Ford.

Iron Forge Bridge across Rocky River just below the old Iron Forge near the Rowland Ford. 

This is downstream from the present Blanks Bridge.  It was a covered wood bridge.  The bridge broke, according to Mill Florence Woods when Sam _____, a peddler was crossing with a 6-horse team and a wagon load of goods.  The driver got on the lead horse and went on to Dillons.  He stayed there for several weeks - sick from the shock.  The flood of 1872 washed away the remains of the bridge.

Johnson's Bridge on Calfkiller - See Brady-Haston Bridge.
Johnson's Bridge on Rocky River - See Joab Miller Bridge.
Joab Miller Bridge across Rocky River about 1 1/4 miles downstream from the present

concrete arch bridge at Goodbars.  Mill Florence Woods told the writer that a saddle belonging to Belle Miller, sister of Joab, was in the bridge at the time it washed.  She also said that at one time the stage from Sparta crossed at McElroys (crossed the Caney Fork River), then followed the road to and crossed the Miller bridge.  It then proceeded on past the Jeff Gross place and back into the main stage road (Present Hgw. 70S approximately).  The stage regularly stopped at McElroys for dinner.

Laurelburg Bridge crosses Rocky River 10.2 miles above the mouth.  It is a short distance

below the old Laurelburg Mill.

Lost Creek Bridge is a small bridge a short distance above the point where the creek flows

into the Caney Fork.  It was built in the latter part of 1925 or early 1926.  It took the place of a ford.  When built there was practically no wagon traffic on the road which really was more of a horse trail. It was built by the T.E.P.Co.

Webmasters notes:  This creek was also called "Wallace Creek or Branch," or at least it was in the 1960s.

Lusk Ford Bridge - See McMinnville Hgw. 70S Bridge across the Collins River.
Martin's Ferry Bridge on the upper Collins River.  This is one of the few bridges that did

not wash out in the 1902 flood.

Mayberry Bridge on the Caney Fork - See Rock Island Bridge.
Mitchell Bridge spans the Caney Fork River 21.2 miles above the Dam.  It was built in 1924

by the T.E.P.Co. and was replaced after being destroyed in the 1929 flood.  It was built at the lower end of Big Bottom.  At the time Dodson's Store stood at the top of the hill above the bridge.  Back in the early 1920's women in Big Bottom made heavy men's socks from home-spun yarn from local sheep.  They traded them at Dodson's for coffee, sugar, notions, etc.  and the writer bought several pairs at 35 cents a pair.  They were worn with high top boots and never did wear out.

Webmaster's notes:  Local people of the area also referred to this bridge as the Amos Dodson Bridge, after the man who owned Dodson's Store. 

Bonnie V. Dycus was a water boy for the men who built the Mitchell Bridge.  There was a wire (or swinging) foot bridge at the location of the Mitchell Bridge, prior to the bridge that was built by the TN Electric Power Company.  Source: Bonnie V. Dycus, December 26, 2003.

McMinnville Hgw. 70S Bridge 19 1/4 miles above the mouth of Collins River.  The first

bridge across Collins River at this location was built by the County about 1900.  It was called the Lusk Bridge after the nearby Lusk Ford.  It was damaged in the flood of 1902 and replaced by the County.  When Highway 70S was improved by the State a new and heavier bridge was constructed in the same general area.

Peter Buram's Bridge - See Rock Island Bridge.
Rail Road Bridge crossing Collins River 18.9 miles above the mouth.  It is about 1/3 mile

downstream from the Hgw. 70S bridge.  It was built several years after the Civil War.

Reno Bridge spans Caney Fork River 11.3 miles above the Dam.  It was built by the

Tennessee Power Co. in 1915-16 when the Dam and Power House were built.  It was raised by the T.E.P.Co. in 1924.  This bridge and River Hill* were the only two on the main river above the Dam that were not damaged by the 1929 flood.  Albert Kuhn, who lived at the top of the hill on the White County side of the River kept the drift wood coming down the river from piling up against the bridge.  He worked a good part of the night with a pike pole.

*Webmaster's note:  The River Hill Bridge that crossed the Caney Fork was destroyed, but the other bridge at that location that crossed Cane Creek was not destroyed.

River Hill Bridges  - See Double Bridges.
Rock Island Bridges crossing Caney Fork River 1.5 miles above the Dam was originally

built by the Mayberrys.  Starting from the White County side of the river it crossed to the Island.  There was a gap to allow stopping on the Island and then it continued across the slough to the Warren County side.  It was a rough wood bridge resting on rock filled log pens.  It was probably built about 1814 or 1815.  (This is base on names and dates on land transfers.)  The bridge was damaged in a flood and in poor condition when Peter Buram rebuilt it around 1826.  One of the older natives said that Buram repaired the bridge "in a very ungainly manner."  People referring to something that was not straight or poorly constructed would say, "It's as crooked as Peter Buram's bridge."  The property was sold to General John B. Rodgers, including the bridge in 1838.  The bridge was not kept in good repair and was badly damaged in the 1852 flood.  General Rodgers cleared the remains from the river, and again put the ferry in operation.

Shells Ford Bridge crossed Collins River 24.8 miles above the mouth of the river. 

It was a short distance downstream for the Shells Ford Mill.  Note - The name is frequently written "Shellsford."

Simmons Bridge spans Cane Creek 1.8 miles above the mouth of the creek.  It was built

by the T.E.P.Co. in 1924.

Webmaster's note:  This bridge was located about 1/2 mile south of the current location of Haston's Chapel Church of God.

Simpson's Bridge on Calfkiller River - See Young's Mill Bridge.
Sparta Hgw. 70S was built across the Calfkiller River 12.1 miles above the mouth of the

river and in the town of Sparta.  Goodspeed refers to it in 1887 as being one of "only three bridges in the County of any size."  The original bridge has been replaced.

Spring Branch Bridge spans Spring Branch less than a quarter of a mile above the mouth

where it joins Cane Creek.  It was built by the T.E.P.Co. in 1924. This bridge and Simmons Bridge are on the road from Cummingsville to and up Cane Creek.

Webmaster's note:  Actually, the Simmons Bridge was on the road that runs from the Cane Creek road north toward Hickory Valley, but only about 1/2 mile from where the road to/from Hickory Valley intersects the Cane Creek - Cummingsville Road.

Tosh Bridge spans the Caney Fork 5.4 miles above the Dam.  It is just below the spring

and spring-branch where the Tosh Mill was located.  It was built in 1915 by the Tennessee Power Co. and raised in 1924 by the T.E.P.Co.  It was washed down in the 1929 flood and rebuilt.

Yost Bridge was built across Rocky River 0.7 miles above the mouth of the river in 1915. 

It was at the site of the Hash Ford.  It was named after Fielding Yost, the great football coach and Director of Athletics at Michigan.  He was one of the three men who really were responsible for the start of the Great Falls Development.  The bridge was built by the Tennessee Power Co.  On January 1, 1925, a clear cold morning, 2 barges were pushed up the river, anchored under the bridge and the steel work was lowered on to the barges.  They were pushed down Rocky River and up the Caney Fork to Dry Branch.  The steel was used in the Dry Branch and Forsythe Branch bridges.

Youngs Mill Bridge was built across Calfkiller River 6.0 miles above the mouth of the river. 

The bridge was first called Simpson's Bridge after the man who had it built and owned the mill at the time.  According to J. A. (Jim) Baker of Campaign it was a wood bridge supported on wood poles and was about rotted out in 1912.  Jim actually saw it in 1912 when he was working with the survey party on the first survey for the Great Falls or Rock Island power project.  The first bridge was replaced with a steel structure - probably about 1915.

Webmaster's note:  This bridge was also known by local people as the County House Bridge, due to the fact that it was very near the White County "County House" (Poor House).

Bridge Notes

Goodspeed's History of Tennessee, 1887 states that there were only three bridges of any size in White County and lists Simpson Mill, Sparta and Gillens Mill bridges.  It further states that there were no bridges of any size in Warren County.  The county histories were written by different men and their ideas of size might have been different.

Foot bridges across small streams were sometimes built by felling a tree and dropping it across the stream.

 Note:  For changes in bridges built by T.E.P.Co. made by TVA in 1971-72
see page 34 (next website page).

Webmaster's notes:

  • There was a wire (swinging) foot bridge across the Caney Fork near the old Dodson Chapel Methodist Church site, not far up the road from upper Big Bottom toward Scott's Gulf.  Boyd Haston (father of Wayne Haston) showed Wayne (in the mid 1950s) the remains of the wire foot bridge and said that he walked across the bare cables of this bridge, while it was in the process of being built.  Boyd and Wayne located and cleaned out a "gum spring"* buried in the south shore of the Caney Fork at that location.  Boyd knew about the gum spring from the time he had lived in that area as a child.

  • There was a ford in the river at this same location, called the Sally Dodson ford.  The road that crossed this ford went up to the top of the mountain through "Sally's Gap" and through the Mooneyham community, then over the mountain toward Pikeville.  (as per Bonnie V. Dycus, December 26, 2003) 

*A gum spring is a hollowed out piece of log from a sweetgum tree that is sunken in the ground beneath water level near a water source, allowing water to seep into the hollowed wood and create a clean pool of water for drinking.

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