Note: This column was printed in the April 25, 2012 edition of The Barrow Journal.
Last week we decided to get out into nature again with the boys, and this time we went to one of my favorite places, Watson Mill Bridge. It’s located three miles south of Comer, Georgia, and I think it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited in Georgia.
Watson Mill Bridge is the longest covered bridge in Georgia. It crosses the South Fork River, and it’s 229 feet long. You can drive or walk through the bridge. We walked over it and discovered it has that wonderful, musty smell of old, historic wood.
Unfortunately, last year the park lost its state park status due to budget challenges, but the Georgia Department of Natural Resources officials just announced that it will return to state park status on May 1. They have partnered with Madison and Oglethorpe counties as well as the Friends of Watson Mill Bridge to make this happen. I’m very happy to learn this.
According to the Georgia State Parks website the bridge was built in 1885 by Washington (W.W.) King, the son of freed slave and famous covered-bridge builder Horace King. It is supported by a “town lattice truss system held firmly together with wooden pins.” The site also says that Georgia used to have more than 200 covered bridges. Now it has less than 20.
The park is a haven to photographers, including me. My boys wanted to spend most of the time on the shoals below the bridge. Yep – more rock throwing! While they played, I had time to photograph the bridge, and I even caught a few worthy images of the boys. In the shallow part of the water, my five-year-old was thrilled to find dozens of black tadpoles. We also spied a skink near the river.
tadpoles & I think some eggs too
My husband and I were happy to sit in the shade and let the boys throw as many rocks as they wanted. I haven’t been to many parks where I could find a place that was very flat and I didn’t feel like I needed to hold onto my two-year-old’s shirt for fear of him falling in the water.
completely in his element
Unfortunately, by the time we were ready to head back to town for lunch, my five-year-old said, “But what about hiking?” Indeed, we did say that we were “going hiking,” so we obliged him by walking a short distance up one of trails. There are two of them on each side of the river. I’m looking forward to when the boys are older and we can go for longer jaunts.
Though I wouldn’t trade these outings with my boys for anything, I fondly remember the days when I could amble down a path and take in the sights and smells of nature. With two little boys, my mind is constantly alert as to where they are and what they might be touching. It’s mentally draining.
Yet this is just a season of my life, and there’s also the thrill of watching my boys discover something for the first time. For example, on the way back to the car, my two-year-old and I were some distance behind my husband and five-year-old. At one point, a female cardinal landed on a branch just above our heads, and my two-year-old noticed her. We stopped and watched her for a long moment and listened to her song. I told him she was the “mama cardinal,” and he nodded. I could see in his expression that he was fascinated, and I’m quite sure I’ll never forget that.
The park is 1,118 acres. There are tent, trailer, RV campsites and 3 log cabin bunkhouses available. Hiking, biking and horse trails are available as well as horse stalls. There’s also a fun playground and three picnic shelters. You can find out more about this beautiful park and how to make reservations at http://www.gastateparks.org/WatsonMillBridge
part of the playground at Watson Mill Bridge State Park
You can find more of my resources for parents in Georgia by clicking here. I’ll be writing about all the places we visit in the future, so I hope you’ll visit me again! Thank you!