The sole vehicular access to the campground at Old Stone Fort State Park is a historic truss bridge that dates back to 1906. Recently the bridge has been deemed unsafe for vehicle traffic by state inspectors.
Old Stone Fort Park Manager Ranger Keith Wimberley said as a result of TDOT’s inspection, the bridge will have to be repaired or replaced, a process that could take up to five years.
“TDOT is having to construct a more semi-permanent road off of Country Club Drive for camper access. Construction will start on it soon,” Wimberley said.
He wanted to inform the park's neighbors in the Country Club Drive area of the additional traffic there will be.
“We want to apologize for the inconvenience it may cause but there isn’t any other option,” he said.
The campground is currently closed, according to posted signage until Sept. 1. The bridge is blocked to cars and trucks and hikers are not being allowed past the Country Club side of the bridge.
The truss bridge, according to Historic Bridges, was built to span the Elk River at Dabbs Ford at the Franklin-Coffee County line. In 1970, the bridge was moved to its current location over the Duck River. In 1990 it was rehabilitated.
The bridge was built by the Joliet Bridge and Iron Company of Illinois making it rare among Tennessee’s historic surviving bridges.
The bridge also stands out because of its ornamental portal bracing. These were cut before cutting torches. They were made, instead, by a series of holes being drilled to remove the metal of the cutout.
According to Historic Bridges, aside from some alterations on the truss such as eyebar heads and one weld to replace a pin nut, the historic integrity of the bridge is intact.
The bridge is a Six panel pin-connected Prat Through Truss, with fixed and approach spans and a multi-beam, metal stringer. The main span is 101 feet, with four approach spans. The roadway is 11.8 feet wide and the entire structure length is 260.5 feet.
A similar truss bridge located upstream, (The Green Bridge to locals) was removed in January of 2012 with a controlled explosion.