Last week we took a trip down Hwy 60 in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Browsing things to see in BlueRidge, I came across a photo with the caption” “Old Iron Bridge, BlueRidge, GA” and we were in search of it. I didn’t know the name of the bridge, nor the location. But I had a hunch that if we went to Iron Bridge Cafe’ and General Store we might be close, and if nothing else we could grab a bite to eat. Along the way, we planned to stop by Skeenah campground to see the old mill. Leaving the mill I took a wrong turn and we ended up seeing so much more that day than planned. It was totally worth wandering about. Check out the amazing rural life we viewed on our road trip down Hwy 60. The question at the end of my blog last week was:
Did We Find the Old Iron Bridge?
Of course, we did! After all, I am writing about it, and it is pictured above. Turning on Aska Road, the Iron Bridge Cafe was on our left, along with a panning for gold tourist venture. All three of us were checking out the panning operation and didn’t pay much attention to the surrounding wooded area. I parked and emerged from the car. My plan was to run inside the store and ask if there was an old iron bridge anywhere in the vicinity. As I exited, I could hear the rush of water from behind me and knew that the river was to my rear and very close. I shut the car door and turned around to walk towards the store and… BOOM!
Coming from Blue Ridge, you cannot see the bridge as you approach the cafe’ because of the tree coverage. It was only after I had parked and turned did I see it. I turned back to the car, opened the door and said, “found it!”
The name of the road the bridge is situated on is Shallowford Bridge Road and this, of course, is Shallowford Bridge.
The steel trestle was built in 1918, and is in need of some work, from what I have found it is going to cost over 700k to repair it. It looks strong though unlike some bridges in Fannin County. Currently, the deck is solid and it is still allowing traffic to cross the narrow 11-foot wide expanse. I could see homes on the other side of the bridge, of residents who still actively use the bridge. The small dirt road on the other side curves upward to Shallowford Mountain and Benton MacKaye Trail.
There is quiet peace as you hear the rushing water and trees swaying softly. I took a stroll across the 175-foot length of the bridge, snapped a few photos and stared into the crystal clear water of the Toccoa. You can rent a tube and glide down the river with Shallowford Bridge Tube Rental or Toccoa Wilderness Tubing or have a bite to eat at the Cafe‘ serving sandwiches, burgers, and wraps.
If you choose to tube the river I recommend going shoeless or wear tight fitting water shoes. There is sad shoe tree that holds the “other shoe” when into the river the first one is dropped.
Bridges today are flat cement rectangles. This bridge has metal rivets and steel, attached to wooden planks. The iron stands as a strong reminder of steelworkers at the turn of the century. It is a bit of history from great-grandpa’s time and reminds me of my Grandaddy Pate who had an iron bridge near his home in Alabama. Growing up when we crossed it, my siblings would say, “we’re at Grandaddy’s bridge, almost to there!”
If your kids have never viewed an actual iron bridge, I totally recommend hopping in the car and taking the short trip just 10 miles south of Blue Ridge, GA down Aska road. An added perk is Aska Road is full of beautiful rural scenery. If using GPS plug in the Iron Bridge Cafe’ 8436 Aska Road, Blue Ridge, GA, but don’t depend on your GPS up here.
Keep the Lust for Wandering Y’all!