KESLER BRIDGE, BANKS COUNTY , GEORGIA
Here is Kesler Covered Bridge in existence from about 1825 to 1978 on county line road between Banks and Franklin Counties.
Banks County February, 1881 In Person came before me H. F. Miller and after being duly sworn says on oath that the below account against Banks County is just and true and is yet unpaid. 8.9 board feet of lumber to repair Kesler’s Bridge one half on the county line between Banks and Franklin Counties across Middle Fork of Broad River at 75 cents per board foot = $6.67. 10 pounds of nails for same at 4 ½ cents = 45 cents. Hauling the same $3.00 4 sleepers $4.00. Sworn to and subscribed before me Henry F. Miller This 2nd day of March 1881 T. F. Hill, Ordinary
Henry F. MILLER was a peddler, a crippled man who made his living hauling things to and fro with his wagon and selling merchandise to the ladies as he traversed Banks Co in his wagon. Family would set him onto the wagon along with his goods and off he would go on his rounds of the countryside. He primarily sold cotton yardage goods, kitchen utensils and staple goods for the kitchen. He was also elected Roads Commissioner, that is how he got into the bridge repair situation.
THE ANDERSON INDEPENDENT MAY 16, 1974 BALDWIN, GA.- Not many men can ride in a modern-day car and take friends on an old-model wooden covered bridge, which still stands as a bulwark against the weather and decades of use. But Dave Crump, 77 of Baldwin and Eugene Vaughn, 69, of Alto, can boast with pride about the bridge they are leaving behind for auto traffic even in 1974.
The two led the way by car, with Vaughn at the controls of his trusty Pontiac, while the reporter and photographer followed from Cornelia and Baldwin to the old Kesler Bridge, the only covered bridge left on Middle Fork River.
Crump and Vaughn will quickly tell you they saw “the bridge was put together like it should have been back in 1925.” “You see how it’s put together,” explained Crump.
Both men acknowledged just being at the scene revived a ton of memories “I don’t want to forget the names of the people who helped build it,” said Crump. “Bob Verner was foreman and there was Dock Kesler, Al Kesler, Eugene Vaughn and me. There’s just two of us living- Vaughn and me.” pointing at the younger man. Grinning, Vaughn responded, “I’m able to hold my own against any man today.”
Crump didn’t respond to that. Instead the two men looked again at the sturdy beams, the almost perfect Engineering which went into bridge work in that era, and they must have had a thousand more thoughts.
“Why the covered part of the bridge?” a Reporter asked. “So the timber would be protected from the weather, rain, and all the elements,” said Vaughn. “But there was another reason, too,” he went on. “It served as a shed or stopping point for mules and wagons and people passing by in Model-T Fords and other cars back in those days when clouds came up they kept from being drenched.”
Larry Whitfield of Baldwin, who gave the news tip on the feature and whose Dad’s farm is adjacent to the bridge, said the wooden structure is a line bridge, meaning that one side is in Banks County and the other side is in Franklin County
. “But it can get more complicated,” he said. “Some people in that area get their mail on Rt. 4, Toccoa, and others get it on Rt. 1, Toccoa, and the Baldwin Route is close by. Crump said the structure took months to build. “We started in the fall of the year, and we wanted to build it right,” he added. “That was back in the days when a good bridge was something” The word is that the bridge was named after the Kesler family because members had a prominent part in its construction. The kin still hold a reunion close by at Prospect United Methodist Church. In a way, time has passed the old wooden structure by. Another bridge has been constructed about 100 yards upstream on Middle Fork River, and the road there is paved. The road leading to the covered bridge is still dirt and will probably stay that way. “It isn’t used much now, but it’s still serviceable,” said Crump, proudly. It leans a little bit these days, but the old facility has stood the test of time exceedingly well.
Some people seek to burn the bridge of life behind them. Dave Crump and Eugene Vaughn are right proud they’ve got a bridge to show to the world. The bridge survived the many years of its life, more than a century, when it became totally impassable it was torn down by Oswell Crump the adjoining property owner at the time, 1978. After it was demolished it was burned and the ashes floated down the river. Apparently Mr. Crump was tired of the trespassers who crossed his land to go view the historical bridge.
CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLES MILLER
copyright 2004 © Vicky & Jackie