Celebrate Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge this week

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Just as sure as June appears on the calendar each year, so does the annual Covered Bridge Celebration, which begins tonight. There will be music in the park along with festival food, arts and crafts and fun for everyone!

The old bridge is now 133 years old, and little did its builders realize that it would become such a well-known landmark and be celebrated by the town over 125 years later.

To those living today, it has always been there, and a very important part of our local history. Even today’s senior citizens remember playing in and around the bridge and swimming in the Doe River beneath it. They remember when cars traveled through the old bridge to homes located in East Side and on Cat Island.

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Many have fished from the banks of Doe River near the Covered Bridge and some remember ice skating in the winter when the river froze over near the bridge. It seems that we all have fond memories of the Covered Bridge.

Known as the Queen of the Doe, the historic Covered Bridge has withstood the ravages of time and nature to still be a place of beauty.

It has been the subject of numerous paintings and hardly a day goes by that someone does not photograph it. It’s the first thing visitors to Elizabethton notice. The wooden structure commands attention along with the Doe River weir dam just a few feet downstream and beautiful old historic homes located to the west on Riverside Drive and Hattie Avenue.

It is unknown how many covered bridges were built in Tennessee, however, only four remain. That Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge is one of four is unique.

Once indispensable to American communities, covered bridges numbered in the thousands. They connected towns and villages, enabling people to better communicate and to exchange goods and services. For the longest time, Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge was the principal means of crossing the Doe River.

Today, covered bridges are no longer vital connectors. Instead they’ve become relics visited by tourists looking for a respite from the world’s web of steel and concrete.

But, more than that, they connect the past with the present.

This week, hundreds of festival goers will walk through the old bridge and admire it as they celebrate the beautiful old landmark with song and music reverberating from the nearby park. There will also be dancing in the park, plenty of tasty festival food to sample, and arts and crafts made by both homefolks and visitors.

Although the Historic Covered Bridge no longer carries traffic it is a reminder of a time when life was slower and much simpler. A reminder of when Elizabethton was in its infancy, when there few stores and businesses east of the Doe River and very few homes dotted the landscape.

The Elizabethton bridge has been renovated from time to time, and, like other covered bridges across America, it, too, has become obsolete with newer technology and designs. Still, its rustic charm will not be lost to the many visitors who will be in town this week to celebrate the old bridge.

We hope Elizabethton’s Covered Bridge will endure another 100 years. It’s an important piece of our heritage and a piece of living history that we are more than willing to share with visitors to town.

It’s worthy of a grand celebration every year.