Restaurateur hopes structure brings Tweetsie Trail users into Smokehouse
Published 9:26 am Friday, November 28, 2014
It takes a bridge to connect two different worlds, or in this case the Tweetsie Trail and a barbecue restaurant on the Milligan Highway.
The Smokehouse BBQ Company owner Mike Miles is in the process of completing a 50-foot bridge spanning Buffalo Creek behind his restaurant. The bridge will provide a direct line for Tweetsie Trail users to access his business and a future planned park that will be nearby.
The bridge was built near mile marker 3.6, close to the halfway point in the Tweetsie Trail, a walking and biking path that connects Elizabethton and Johnson City. From the trail-side entrance, users will follow a winding path down the bank to the bridge. From the restaurant side, the bridge enters right into the grassy courtyard space behind the building.
Near the entrance to the path to the bridge, three benches have been installed to give trail users a place to rest. Before the benches were installed, the trail users would stop to rest on a large rock nearby, Miles said.
“People are on this trail every day,” he said.
Miles was planning for his bridge for around two years before he started work on the project. He was faced with the task of creating a 50-foot-long structure that could not touch the water below.
“I had to come up with a design that would work and would not be cost-prohibitive,” he said.
Miles had a local roofing company create a metal A-frame support structure for the bridge. He then used wooden planks and beams for the foot path and the railings. The bridge is complete except for installation of safety fencing along the sides and tightening the metal guy-wires that will stabilize the structure.
“It has been a labor of love,” Miles said. “I really enjoyed it.”
Tweetsie Trail users have enjoyed seeing the progress of the bridge so far, Miles said. When walkers or bikers come by, they will flash him a thumbs-up if he is outside, he said.
The new bridge is not the only plans Miles has for the area near the trail. He said he would also like to clear a lot near the bridge and the creek to turn into a rest and picnic area.
“This is near the halfway point, and it is one of the prettiest points on the trail,” Miles said. “It would give people time to stop and rest and relax. They could get food from me, or they could bring their own picnic lunch — either way.
Miles is hoping to partner with a local Boy Scout troop to help finish the park if the plans receive approval.
With the bridge itself near completion, its official opening is getting “pretty close” but depends on the weather, Miles said.