County Bridge, Hillman Bridge, Suwannee River 2022-11-26

More old bridge history from Ken Sulak, retired from USGS: Ellaville County Bridge, the ferry before that, the log boom, and Hillman Bridge, plus the Ellaville Gauge turns out to be one of the oldest, all on the Suwannee River near the Withlacoochee River Confluence.

You can see these sights on the WWALS paddle, Allen Ramp to SRSP, Withlacoochee River, 2023-02-04.

[Abutment, Piling of Ellaville County Bridge, Suwannee River]
Abutment, Piling of Ellaville County Bridge, Suwannee River

Ken wrote,

The Ellaville ‘County Bridge’ over the Suwannee was built in 1908. The ‘County Bridge’ was parallel to and just upstream of the RR trestle.

[CSX RR Bridge, 2019-06-01]
CSX RR Bridge, 2019-06-01

The County Bridge did rest upon massive concrete abutments atop either bank, but then also several pairs of lally columns. The south shore abutment still stands, right next to the USGS gauge house.

[Abutment of the Ellaville County Bridge --Ken Sulak]
Abutment of the Ellaville County Bridge –Ken Sulak

I wish I could locate the early gauge station data.

Ellaville Gauge, Suwannee River

The fact that the gauge station is right next to the old bridge site tells me that the gauge station was put in place also in 1908. It was left there but rebuild in the 1925 when the Hillman Bridge was built further downstream—still standing.

[RR Bridge and Hillman Bridge, 2019-06-01]
RR Bridge and Hillman Bridge, 2019-06-01

The Hillman Bridge was built in 1925-1926, replacing the County Bridge.

[Hillman Bridge, 15:20:06]
Hillman Bridge, 2019-06-01

Besides the big 1928 flood, there was an earlier record flood in 1911—but I have no newspaper reports about it. So, I have been hoping to obtain the early USGS gauge data. I inquired at USGS headquarters in Reston, VA, but all of the old librarians and archivists have retired. No one seems to know now where the early gauge and manual river level measurements data are stored—pre 1925. The Ellaville and the White Springs gauges were the first two put in place. However, private individuals were enlisted to monitor physical marked gauge sticks planted into the river at other places—early on.

On this 1954 aerial:

[Aerial map, 1954]
Aerial map, 1954

The road approaching the County Bridge is Old Stagecoach Road. The other little track meandering down to the river, next to the County Bridge, is the old ferry landing approach.

[Annotated aerial map --Ken Sulak]
Annotated aerial map –Ken Sulak

The County Bridge rested upon concrete abutments and lally column supports, but there were also some tall timber pilings on the Madison County (north to the left) side. A few of these very tall timber pilings still remain submerged in the river next to the base of the old County Bridge. Used to be about 8 of these in the mid-1990s. At least 2 remain and can be seen easily at very low water—like now.

[Old submerged piling --Ken Sulak]
Old submerged piling –Ken Sulak

All these points are on the WWALS SRWT map:

[Map: County, CSX, Hillman Bridges in WWALS SRWT Map]
Map: County, CSX, Hillman Bridges in the WWALS map of the Suwannee River Water Trail (SRWT).

 -jsq, John S. Quarterman, Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!