|Jackson Bridge in southwestern Conecuh County.|
Several years ago, around Halloween time, I read an article about the “Scariest Bridges in America.” This got me to thinking about writing a similar story on the “Scariest Bridges in Conecuh County.” With that in mind, I began asking around about scary bridges in our area.
Back then, Shane Moore was the county bridge inspector, and, on average, he inspected around 30 bridges each month for the County Engineer’s Office. I figured that he was as familiar with local bridges as anyone, and one day while standing out in the hallway at the courthouse, waiting on a county commission meeting, I asked him about scary bridges in our neck of the woods. I will never forget what he said.
He sort of looked around to see if anyone else was listening, then looked me right in the eye and said, “Peacock, when you get under these bridges around here, they’re all kind of scary.” He maintained a serious look on his face for several seconds before cracking a big smile, and we had a big laugh as he told me about all the creepy-crawlies he encountered under bridges on a daily basis.
With that said, a number of other people supplied me with information about some of our other local bridges, but the name of one bridge in particular came up again and again – the old Jackson Bridge on the Range Road in the southwestern corner of the county. Hearing this, I was very familiar with Jackson Bridge, which is actually a pair of wooden bridges that crosses Escambia Creek. In my younger years, I’d jumped off the larger of the two bridges countless times into the deep, cold waters there.
Last Thursday morning, I rode out to Jackson Bridge for a look around. I had not been there in a couple of years, and it looked pretty much the same as it had the last time I was there. As I stood there on the edge of the bridge and looked down into the dark water below, no one else was around, and I could not help but think about all the strange tales I’d heard about this place.
Some say the crossing was named Jackson Bridge because Andrew Jackson crossed the creek there in the early 1800s while making his way from the Three-Notch Trail to the Old Federal Road, which is less than two miles west of the current bridge. There may be some truth to this because, according to local history buff John Potts, a military uniform button from Jackson’s time period was once found about 15 feet from the site of the bridge.
Others say that there might still be lost treasure buried near the bridge. Tommy Owens said he used to swim there a lot and had heard old tales of Confederate gold buried nearby. Supposedly, near the end of the Civil War, Confederate troops buried gold near the bridge to keep pursuing Yankees from getting their hands on the gold.
Others say that if you go there late at night, you better be prepared to deal with the supernatural. James Hoskins, who lives a short drive from the bridge, told me that if you go there on a moonlit night and switch your vehicle and headlights off, a headless woman would rise up out of the creek. Worst of all, this headless woman would be toting her own head… or so the story goes.
Ronnie Qualls, who used to live near the bridge, said he used to swim there in his younger days, and he’d always heard tales about how “Mad Sally” haunted the bridge. According to this tale, way back in the horse-and-buggy days, a woman named Sally was leading a wagon train during a heavy rainstorm. The bad weather had flooded the creek and when she tried to cross it, the high waters swept her wagon away, drowning all of her children.
Nowadays, if you go there at night, turn off your vehicle, cut out your lights and listen closely, you can hear “Mad Sally” crying. Some even claim to have seen her lantern glowing, moving through the woods near the bridge as “Mad Sally” continues to look for her missing children… or so the story goes.
As I made my way back to Evergreen, I couldn’t help but think about Jackson Bridge and all the tales I’ve heard about it. I’ve never personally experienced anything supernatural there, but who’s to say what you might see there on a dark night as the days roll off the calendar toward Halloween. In the end, like my old friend Shane Moore once said, “all of these bridges are sort of spooky,” so let me know if you’ve ever seen anything out of the ordinary at Jackson Bridge or at any other bridge within the boundaries of Conecuh County.