Tag Archives: Ken Sulak

Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River 2022-01-05

Ken Sulak, retired from USGS, sent this update on the Alapaha River bridge site 0.8 miles downstream from Sullivan Launch Sasser Landing, or 0.64 miles downstream from the CR 150 bridge. Plus a likely old ferry site, and maybe a previous location of Sullivan Launch Sasser Landing.

[Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River, c. 1989]
Jennings Bridge, Alapaha River, c. 1989 –Florida Memory

This is the site of the ‘Jennings Bridge’, a steel through-truss bridge, apparently built around 1902-1903. Some online bridge websites state that this is the oldest steel/iron highway bridge in Florida. But, that is doubtful—if the construction date I have is correct. For example, the ‘Adams Bridge’ aka ‘Steel Bridge’ in White Springs was built in 1891, and the original 2-span bowstring style bridge, the ‘Lee Bridge’ over the Withlacoochee (right where the current CR-141 bridge is located) may have been built in the late 1880s. I would like to explore the riverbank and look at what remains of the bridge supports. If there are cutoff Lally columns, then the Jennings Bridge was probably indeed built around 1902-1903. But if the supports are old limerock concrete or brick, then it would have been built before 1898.

[Jennings Bridge in WWALS ARWT map]
Jennings Bridge in the WWALS Alapaha River Water Trail (ARWT) map.

Anyway, I was just writing to note the name of the Jennings Bridge—you might want to add that to your interactive map. Hinton’s 1976 History of Hamilton County calls it by that name, as well as Florida Memory. Some folks say it collapsed in the late 1970s, one article says 1981, Florida Memory Archive has several photos of the falling-apart, but still-standing bridge dated 1989.

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Video: Turner Bridge to FL 6, Suwannee River 2021-12-16

Here’s a video of the mid-December 2021 Ken Sulak Suwannee River paddle, the part from Turner Bridge to Cypress Creek South Launch at FL 6.

FL 6 bridge, Suwannee River 2021-12-16

The images are ten seconds apart. You can see Mike Byerly’s canoe parked over one of the Lally columns of Turner Bridge in the river. You can see Ken Sulak drop a magnet to confirm that it is metal. Continue reading

Turner Bridge mysteries –Ken Sulak 2021-12-16

Update 2022-01-15: Video: Turner Bridge to FL 6, Suwannee River 2021-12-16.

Here is a column about Lally columns, by Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, Retired, now researching bridge and history in the Suwannee River Basin.

Some of you may have ideas, comments, speculations on the several enigmas presented by the gone—but not forgotten by me—old Turner Bridge that spanned the upper Suwannee River from ~1900-1951.

[Lally columns, 13:52:06, 30.5246480, -82.7277260]
Lally columns, left (east) bank, Suwannee River, Columbia County, Florida, 3:52:06, 30.5246480, -82.7277260. Photo: John S. Quarterman, 2021-12-16.

Important in its time, seemingly never photographed???, but long forgotten except by a few folks in their 90s-100s. If you know any such North Florida old timers that have stories to tell, memories of any of the old ferries and bridge, and maybe old bridge photos—let me know. Having been on the trail of all the historical fords, ferries, bridges and trestles over the Suwannee River & it major tributaries, 1820-1960, I am now up to 164 individually owned or operated crossings at 64 distinct sites. Many mysteries remain, lots to learn, much has already been lost as the old timers pass along. Got to get the overall story pieced together and written up and documented with photos before I go senile or end my stay on this excellent planet.

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Pictures: Roline to FL 6, Suwannee River 2021-12-16

Update 2022-01-05: Turner Bridge mysteries –Ken Sulak 2021-12-16.

Nine of us paddled the Suwannee River from Roline to Cypress Creek South Launch at FL 6, mostly to see the remains of Turner Bridge, at the invitation of Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, Retired, now researching bridge and history in the Suwannee River Basin. We saw a small gator, some dead top cypress trees, many health ones, and tupelo, pines, and oaks, as well a birds and a few fish. Mike Byerly discovered a small creek below Turner Bridge. Karst outcrops became more frequent the farther downstream we went. There was a shoal with waves for half a mile or so. An enjoyable warm winter day paddle.

[Roline, Gator, Turner Bridge, Byerly Creek]
Roline, Gator, Turner Bridge, Byerly Creek

Ken has written up his findings so far about Turner Bridge. Continue reading

History of Alapaha River Bridges, US 41 to Nobles Ferry –Ken Sulak 2021-12-08

Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, Retired, sent us some things to look for as we paddle the last stretch of the Alapaha River on February 5, 2022.

[Pictures and Maps, Lower Alapaha River Bridges]
Pictures and Maps, Lower Alapaha River Bridges

For your upcoming [5] Feb Alapaha adventure, some of your folks might be interested in the history of three crossing sites you will encounter. So, here you go very briefly: Continue reading

Sulak’s Defeat at Jennings Defeat 2020-08-26

Explorer Dr. Ken Sulak has solved an Alapaha River rapids naming mystery. He recounts:


So in 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote a poem inspired by a dream.

Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

Insert three ‘A” and the dreamscape river becomes the Alapaha, and appropriately so. Yesterday, I embarked on the foolish idea of a solo kayak journey up 3 miles of the Alapaha from Sasser Landing (just below the confluence of the Alapaha and the Alapahoochee rivers) to the site of the 1800s Roebucks Ferry and later Roebucks Bridge.

[Jennings Defeat Rapids, Ogeechee Gum, GS&F RR trestle below CR 150]
Jennings Defeat Rapids, Ogeechee Gum, GS&F RR trestle below CR 150

That crossing brought settlers and other travelers from Jacksonville and Fernandina along the GA/FL border across the Alapaha to Miccotown, the old Seminole Indian town in the triangle of land protected by the two flanking rivers. The road/trail (gone now on both sides) continued west across the Alapahoochee at the site of the early 1900s Beatty Bridge (undoubtedly preceded in the mid-1800s by an undocumented ferry), and on to Hickstown in Madison County and westward. Miccotown became the first county seat of Hamilton County as the settlers suppressed the Seminoles and the old Indian town faded into obscurity in 1839. Continue reading

Trailmarker Tree Trails 2020-11-04

Second of a series of posts from Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, retired. He is aware that Indian Trailmarker Trees are still speculative. Maybe with enough examples we can all determine whether they are what they seem to be. Please send pictures and locations of any trailmarker trees you may have seen, especially along old trails that crossed the Alapaha, Withlacoochee, Little, Suwannee, or Santa Fe Rivers, such as Old Coffee Road or various versions of El Camino Real.

[Old Trails]
Old Trails

Thanks for your reply. The trailmarker tree thing is an offshoot of my research on historic settler fords, ferries and bridges. Certainly early settlers traded with Seminoles and followed their trails. This Motte map is one of the few I have encountered that shows trails from GA coming into FL. There has also been more published on the ‘Alachua Trail’ figured in the next map. But that is of less interest to me because folks using that trail were primarily headed to the St. Johns River area—a distinct migration thing from the GA and SC folks headed for ‘Middle Florida’ where the best farm land and ample water was available.

I have been trying to confine my studies and field explorations to that area—but have inevitably gotten involved with what was happening in S GA. I have made several foot and solo kayak trips to the GA/FL border, and up into GA a bit now.

Many coming south from GA crossed into Spanish FL at Warners (Beauforts, Hornes) Ferry over the Withlacoochee, then headed south to Deadman’s Bay (Steinhatchee) to boil down salt water to make several barrels full of salt to take back to GA in wagons. This is one of the several ‘Old Salt Trails’ that later immigrant settlers used. All six of the so-far discovered trailmarker trees fall right on one of the dotted trails in this map

[1838 Motte Seminole War trail map]
Motte’s 1838 Seminole War map showing trails with dotted lines.

Warners Ferry or Horn’s Ferry was near where the current Horn Bridge is over the Withlacoochee River just upstream of State Line Boat Ramp and the GA-FL line.

I asked Ken a few questions, including: Continue reading

Searching for Trailmarker Trees 2020-11-02

Here’s the first of a series of posts from Dr. Ken Sulak, USGS, retired, whom you may remember we’ve quoted before about sturgeon jumping in the Suwannee River. He’s got several new pursuits that entwine with Suwannee River Basin rivers, and he’s asking for your assistance. He is aware that Indian Trailmarker Trees are still speculative. Maybe with enough examples we can all determine whether they are what they seem to be.

WWALS riverrats –

While exploring old bridge and ferry sites along the Suwannee River and its tributaries, I have encountered five unmistakable Indian Trailmarker Trees (and Brack Barker has shown me a sixth). I won’t say I discovered these, because some human first shaped each, and thousands of Indians and early settlers used these manmade landmarks to navigate through South Georgia and Florida’s 27 million acres of seemingly endless and trackless primordial Longleaf Pine Forest. Sure, there were Indian trails that the settlers also followed, like the Alachua Trail and the Old Salt Road (plural). But that was not necessarily easy. No welcome to Florida signs back then, no road signs, no road maps, no GPS — although the sun and stars provided compass directions.

[Trailmarker Trees, How To, and old map]
Trailmarker Trees, How To, and old map

The noted naturalist Herbert Stoddard came to Florida with his family as a small boy in 1893. Florida became a US Territory in 1822, with settlers arriving in droves thereafter. But even as late as 1893, there were few real roads to follow. Stoddard recalls: “Came a long ride in a horse-drawn wagon over bumpy, one-track roads through the longleaf woods … They were crooked as snakes, for every time a pine tree fell across the road, Continue reading

Sturgeons Catching Air –Ken Sulak, USGS, retired 2012-10-01

Why do those prehistoric hundred-pound fish jump so far out of the water? Many reasons, explained in Catching Air—Those Magnificent Jumping Suwannee Sturgeons, by Ken Sulak.

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