Friday, June 8, 2012

A Bridge to the Past

One of the commitments I made to myself when I began researching and writing about the history of Douglas County and the City of Douglasville was I wouldn’t publish anything until I was certain that I had done everything I could to verify my resources and not just publish what could possibly be family folklore as historical fact.

I would suspect part of that train of thought on my behalf has to do with the fact that early on in my online writing foray at History Is Elementary I tried to dispel as many myths and incorrect thought processes regarding historical events as I could. 

It’s so very easy for folklore to become fact…..

For example, one of my first attempts at dispelling historical myths had to do with George Washington in my article George, We Hardly Knew Ye,  and later I attempted to bust a few myths regarding Christopher Columbus, and I even tried to clear up the  July 4th or the July 2nd debate.

So….through the process of attempting to publish historical facts regarding local history I end up sitting on a wealth of information most of the time.  I hang on to bits and pieces of Douglas County history just hoping I’ll run across the right person, the right resource, and the right web link that will verify an event, the actions of certain people, or particular place.

I’ve had more than a few longtime Douglas County residents tell me about a wooden bridge that spanned the railroad track in downtown Douglasville providing a pedestrian walkway from Broad Street over to Strickland Street. 

I had been told the bridge crossed over the track at the highest point which would have been on the western edge of courthouse square. 

I had also been told the wooden walkway was torn down in the 1930s.

When I inquired with the City of Douglasville I was given this image:

Courtesy of the City of Douglasville:   A bridge that spanned the railroad  from Broad Street to Strickland

I held onto the picture and waited…..

I found it mentioned in  a couple of sources but the story involved still has to be verified, so I waited some more…….

And then I read an article published in the Atlanta Constitution on May 5, 1888 in an article titled “Douglasville’s Situation – Its People, Its Business, and Its Future Prospects.”

A section of the article states “…near the center of this town, a bridge arched like a rainbow, spans the railroad.  From the top of the bridge, one gets a good view of the city and the surrounding country.  The railroad passes through the town straight as an arrow.  Facing this road on one side the stores and shops are arranged, some twenty to thirty in number.  Scattered around in all directions are the dwellings, many of them are attractive homes, surrounded by extensive gardens, adorned with trees, shrubbery and flowers, indicating refinement and taste.

This blurb in the newspaper verifies several things for me.   A bridge existed, and it crossed the over the track.   It existed as early as 1888, and the bridge in the above picture is more than likely the bridge that crossed the railroad tracks since it does indeed arch up like the article said.   The location of the bridge is fairly pinpointed since the article states it’s near the center of town.  It seems to me the center of town would be close to the spot where the old skint chestnut tree was located….which would have been just west of courthouse square.

I’d love to see a picture of the entire bridge….a different angle or viewpoint.   If I remember correctly this picture is also published in Earl Albertson’s Portraits of Douglas, and I believe the people are identified.   I’ll check on that in the next few days. 

If you have any information regarding the bridge please leave a comment or contact me via email.

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