Moore’s Bridge Park & Horace King Historic Site Preserved (GA)

CARROLL COUNTY, GA, 2/13/2009: The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national nonprofit land conservation organization, and Carroll County announced today that a 485-acre property that buffers 1.4 miles of the Chattahoochee River and which served for more than a century as the “gateway” to Carroll County has been permanently protected,

The preservation will protect an area rich in Civil War, African American and Native American history and will give the county a chance to restore an historically significant wooden covered bridge that once crossed the Chattahoochee River. The bridge was built by Horace King, an African American master builder who was one of the most respected bridge builders in West Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi from the 1830s through the 1880s. He constructed bridges over nearly every major river in the area, including many over the Chattahoochee.

TPL bought a 242-acre parcel plus an adjacent 243-acre parcel before selling the combined 485 acres to the county today for $4,474,000, a price $641,000 below appraised fair market value. TPL paid for its work on the project, donated staff and legal time, and also contributed $250,000 towards the acquisition by the county. The county bought the property from TPL using existing SPLOST funds earmarked for greenspace acquisition.

“The many layers of history are the most unique aspect of this land,” said Doug Mabry, an archaeologist and Carroll County historian. “By 1827, this former Creek Indian territory began to serve as the gateway to Carroll County via a series of ferry crossings and later, a few bridges that crossed the Chattahoochee River. The most famous bridge was the 480-foot wooden covered bridge constructed in 1858 at this site by Horace King, who held a one-third interest in the bridge.” King had teamed up with two wealthy white men to form the Arizonia Bridge Company. James D. Moore supplied the land for the bridge, which was just below his house, Charles Mabry (a distant cousin of Doug Mabry) supplied the timber, and Horace King supplied the labor in exchange for his one-third interest in the toll bridge.

“This is a tremendously important acquisition for Carroll County,” said Bill Chappell, Chairman of the Carroll County Board of Commissioners. “This area was one of the most important unprotected heritage areas remaining in the Southeast, and it could play a significant role in the county’s evolving heritage tourism initiative by becoming the ‘southern gateway’ to Carroll County once again. We are grateful for all of TPL’s efforts and support to help make this park a reality.”

Although the wooden bridge that once stood on this site was burned during the Civil War, the bridge abutments are still intact, and the James Moore house still stands on the site.

The property is also the only place in Carroll County where a Civil War battle – an artillery duel spanning the river – is known to have occurred. In July 1864, as Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman neared Atlanta, he sent Maj. General George Stoneman downstream to find a crossing over the Chattahoochee. On July 13, 1864, Stoneman and his men drove off a small unit of Confederate guards. The next day the Confederates returned, in larger force, with cannons. The Union troops also had artillery, so the battle of Moore’s Bridge began. The Union troops were soon driven off, but as they left they set the bridge afire. Though the battle was small, the strategic location of the bridge delayed the Battle of Atlanta for several days, because Sherman refused to cross the river 40 miles upstream until he knew Stoneman had either secured or destroyed the bridge.

“We applaud Carroll County’s conservation vision and timely action to protect its special places,” said David Kuechenmeister, TPL’s project manager. “This is the most compelling project I’ve worked on with the county. In addition to the potential long-term economic benefits, it also fits into TPL’s Chattahoochee Land Protection Program and our evolving Georgia Green Program.” TPL has a long, successful working relationship with Carroll County, Kuechenmeister pointed out, and in the last six years, has helped the county conserve 10 properties totaling about 2,000 acres with a savings to the county of more than $5 million.

The next step for the heritage park is creation of a Master Plan for the 485-acre site. TPL has engaged Bilson & Associates, an experienced land planning firm, to help develop the plan and aid the county with this next step in the park’s evolution. The planning process will include public input from Carroll County residents to help determine how best to conserve the land and interpret the site’s many natural, cultural and historic attributes, including the historically significant James Moore house. The property will be managed by the Carroll County Parks & Recreation Department.

The Trust for Public Land, a national, private, nonprofit conservation organization founded in 1972, protects land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, historic sites and wilderness areas. Across the nation, TPL has completed more than 3,500 projects in 46 states and saved more than 2.3 million acres of land. In Georgia alone, TPL has preserved more than 19,500 acres valued at over $200 million dollars, including 55 sites in the Chattahoochee River Corridor.