Exploring Georgia | Elder Mill Covered Bridge

Previously, after a visit to Watson Mill State Park, I shared my love for old covered bridges. Since then, I've kind of made it my unspoken mission to visit and document as many covered bridges as I can, here in Georgia and elsewhere. A few weeks ago, after realizing it was much too beautiful of a Spring day to stay cooped up inside, I loaded up the girls [our dogs] and we headed out for a drive. Unsurprisingly, we ended up just a few miles away from home at a place I've visited before— Elder Mill Covered Bridge in Watkinsville. 

"Built in 1897 by Nathaniel Richardson, this 99-foot long bridge originally carried the Watkinsville-Athens Road over Calls Creek. It was moved here to Rose Creek in 1924 and the road was relocated to its present site. The nearby c.1900 grist mill ceased operations in 1941. Constructed in the Town Lattice design, the bridge's web of planks crisscrossing at 45- to 60-degree angles are fastened with wooden pegs, or trunnels, at each intersection. It is one of the few covered bridges in Georgia continuing to carry traffic without underlying steel beams."
-Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Department of Transportation, and the Federal Highway Administration.

Unlike Watson Mill which is surrounded by a state park, the Elder Mill covered bridge is located on a residential dirt road, about a 10-minute drive south of Watkinsville's town center. While its secluded location is popular with locals in search of a quiet spot to read or enjoy a cup of afternoon coffee, it's rare to see large crowds of visitors exploring the site. Of the countless times I've been there, I think I've only come across another person once or twice. Other than passersby and locals, it's also a favorite shoot location for photographers because of its unpopulated setting [I actually had a little amateur maternity photo shoot there with a good friend of mine and her husband when she was pregnant with their first child a few years ago— So much fun!].

Most of the property surrounding the immediate area around the covered bridge is private, but the nearby residents are friendly and will often come out and strike up a conversation if they see you roaming about while politely respecting the NO TRESPASSING signs. Ask nicely, and they may even invite you to explore the trails on their property a little further down the creek, beyond the common area.

After feeling satisfied with the few shots I captured of the bridge, we piled back into the car for another short drive back to Watkinsville for a walk around Harris Shoals Park. We checked out a bit of the newly expanded hiking trails, but didn't stay long— me, a camera, and two overly excited and under socialized chihuahuas wearing new, ill-fitting harnesses quickly turned into quite the walking circus. Once this Georgia summer heat wears off, we'll try again!

If you're in, near, or planning on visiting Georgia and want to visit the Elder Mill Bridge or any of the other covered bridges in the area here are a few great resources- Enjoy!

Elder Mill Covered Bridge on Explore Georgia
Watson Mill Bridge State Park page
GDOT List of Covered Bridges
Wikipedia List of Covered Bridges in Georgia (U.S.)
Georgia Covered Bridge Map

xo, Steve