Two years later: Coheelee Creek covered bridge reopens after Hurricane Michael cleanup
EARLY COUNTY, Ga. (WTVY) - The southern-most covered bridge in the United States is back open to the public. The historic Coheelee Creek covered bridge in Early County, Georgia, suffered thousands of dollars worth of damage from Hurricane Michael.
“It crushed in the roof and damaged several side panels,” June Merritt, chair of the Early County Board of Commissioners, said.
Merritt said all hands have been on deck to help revitalize the park and preserve the historic marker.
"The public works department have cleared up the grounds, cut the brush and dead trees that had fallen,” Merritt said.
$25,000 dollars was spent to remove fallen trees from the bridge after the hurricane. County leaders have also spent $125,000 of federal, state, and local money to restore the bridge.
The bridge is part of the National Register of Historic Places.
In the past, the bridge was the target of vandals, who graffitied the area and left trash. Gates were put up in 2017 to close the bridge off and keep those vandals out.
“We’re doing the best we can to keep it maintained,” Merritt said.
Merritt said she’s excited that the park is back open. She encourages visitors, but hopes they leave it the way the find it.
“I just they come and enjoy it and come back often,” Merritt said. "But I want them to be aware of what a precious resource this is to them and do what they can to protect it.”
The next steps in the cleanup process includes clearing and reopening the park’s walking trail. A new sign will soon be placed above the bridge entrance.
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