Crews are demolishing Ghost Bridge over Cypress Creek despite community efforts to save the structure.
Henry Ford’s Model T was just four years old when Ghost Bridge first allowed people to cross Cypress Creek on Lauderdale 282, north of Florence.
Everything from horse shoes to the tires of modern automobiles scratched and cut grooves into the one-lane wooden deck when the bridge was in use from 1912-96.
It is sad, then, that the last weight the rusty old iron-frame span will bear belongs to a backhoe sent by the county government to demolish the historic structure.
The span — whose actual name is Jackson Ford Bridge — has stood mostly forgotten during the past 16 years except for trespassers, or the occasional fisherman or canoeist who passes below in its shadow.
County Commission Chairman Dewey Mitchell said the bridge has deteriorated so severely that is has become a liability to the county. So the commission agreed to tear it down.
On the Ghost Bridge Facebook page, preservation supporters question how the bridge could support a backhoe if it is in such bad shape.
Community efforts to save the bridge from demolition are admirable and understandable. It is a part of Lauderdale County’s rich history
Perhaps the structure could have been transformed into a pedestrian bridge. Nearby sites of historical significance like the Forks of Cypress and an old cemetery to the east possibly could have been linked to the bridge via a walking tour.
But, in reality, county officials probably made the best decision given the current state of public funding. The span is a bridge to nowhere. The surrounding acreage is privately owned. The secluded setting is ripe for vandalism, drug use and other criminal activity. Someone could get hurt or killed.
It would be difficult to justify the expense of restoration against the number of visitors the site would attract.
The only testimony that it ever existed will be from the stories of the people who crossed it and the pillars standing in the tangled wilderness on the banks of the Cypress.
Photographs, being collected from the community by the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library, will still exist.
But, sadly and soon, the bridge will truly be a ghost of Lauderdale County’s past.