Southern Railway Swing Bridge, 1928, Lumber City


Some sources have listed the date of construction for this landmark as 1916; 1928 is the accepted year per the construction records of the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company. The style is known as “through-truss”  and this is one of just a handful of surviving rotating bridges in Georgia.


Tina Clay recalls: My grandparents lived on the Jeff Davis side of that river until the road was widened in the 80’s. They owned the land up to the river. My grandmother actually watched that bridge being built. It was prior to the bridge for auto travel when there was still a ferry in operation. I also lived there until I was 8 (when the road was widened). The train trestle was actually made to turn and rotate to allow larger ships passage down the river. That was one of the main reason to have someone on lookout. They also kept carrier pigeons up there and used them to communicate up and down the river.


Filed under --TELFAIR COUNTY GA--, Lumber City GA

13 responses to “Southern Railway Swing Bridge, 1928, Lumber City

  1. Marilyn E Gribble

    I guess it was the Red River Tea Room I use to go to with my Dad when I was young. It was on the left after you crossed the bride coming from Hazlehurst. It was always in afternoon when he got off from work. Him and is cousin would set at the bar and drink a beer and i would set on the bar stool next to one of them and have coke with peanuts in it and best i can remember some to eat if i want it. .

  2. From Jeff Anderson’s page:

    The 174 mile Macon-Brunswick Railroad was completed and opened New Year’s Day, 1870.

    Plans for this line of track began in 1856 but not much progress was made on construction before the Civil War intervened. After the Civil War, 50 miles of track was completed in 1867 from Macon to Hawkinsville. With the state’s endorsement of $2.5 million worth of the railroad’s bonds and new investors, the 174-mile railroad between Macon and Brunswick was finally completed. The railroad laid its track through Telfair during the winter of 1869. The Macon-Brunswick track opened in its entirety on January 1, 1870.

    The trestle at Lumber City over the Ocmulgee River rotated on its center pylon to allow steamboats to pass. The bridge operator’s shed atop the trestle allowed the bridge worker a good view of steamboat traffic on the river and approaching trains. When a steamboat approached, assuming there was not a train coming down the track, the bridge worker would turn the railroad bridge to allow the vessel to pass.

    Steamboats churned the Ocmulgee River as far north as Macon for roughly a hundred years. Just a few miles downstream of Lumber City, the Ocmulgee and Oconee Rivers come together to form the Altamaha River. This was the economic lifeline for South Georgia before the railroad – steamboat transport of goods and products to and from the Port of Darien. Wharves were also maintained on the riverbank by the railroad to transfer freight to and from the boats. With the development of the railroad, steamboat traffic began to slowly decline. In the mid teens (1915-16) steamboat traffic had declined significantly and by the mid-30s it was just a trickle. By the late 1930s and certainly by 1940 steamboats on the Ocmulgee were a thing of the past.

    Courtesy of City Hall – Lumber City, Georgia
    Mrs. Sue Sammons, Mayor

    Georgia’s Railroad History and Heritage,
    Dates of construction and completion
    Steve Storey — with Holly Calhoun, Bill N Daphne Hardin, Trishia Calhoun McCumbers, Sarah Altman, Jessica Ann Calhoun, Royce Neal and Vickie Moore Fleming.

  3. Alexis

    This message is to Michael, who wrote the first post. I’m not sure if you will see this, or if I even have the right person, but do you remember playing with a boy across the street from your Aunt Net named Michael? I believe it was in the 1970’s, he would have been in the 3rd grade as well… we lived in a white mobile home, and you used to stand right under his bedroom window and yell for him to come out and play. (If it WAS you, of course) I think your Dad drove a National Linen Truck at the time. I remember your Aunt Net so well, and the swimming pool with the high dive. There wasn’t much in Lumber City, so it was a big deal ! Thanks for the memories… sorry if I have the wrong person, I just had to ask.

    Michael’s Sister (Alexis)

    • Michael Mcbratney

      I am michael and Net was my aunt. I think you may or may not have the right michael.l did go to the 3rd grade there and started the 4th there. We lived with my aunt behind the restrant in the house there. My two brothers and my mom. My dad was in the Navy at the time and they had split up for a while. I think it was in the early 60’s back then. We moved back to Jacksonville Fl. After that. I remember hanging out with a boy who lived up the highway from my aunts house passed the gas station and down the road to the right from there. But forgot his name. Went back to see my aunt in 1970 when I was station at Fort Rucker Alabama . Aunt Net passed away back in 1993 or 94. Mom sold the place and I never heard what happen after that. It was the best place I ever had lived. Wish I could of got the place and opened up the restaurant again. What did they do to the pool? And the restaurant ? Do you know? Well glad to hear from you and hope to hear more. You can contact me any time at
      I’m on facebook under Jackson Mcbratney.
      Have a Great Day or Night.

  4. Michael

    My Aunt Net use to run the Red River Tea House, had a big swimming pool across the road and later built a restaurant next to the pool.,use to spend a lot of summers there. Went to school there one year ,was in Third Grade .
    She died back in late 1990’s. Net Wheeler was her name, we called her Aunt Net. I truly miss her and Lumber City. All the places in the states, Lumber City is were I would love to be. Used to go fishing down by the river a little ways from the big Bridge.

    • It is a great little town, Michael. Do you happen to have a photograph, or know of one, of the Red River Tea House. I’ve never heard of it and can just imagine how much fun that was! Thanks so much for sharing your memories with us…

    • Patty

      Yes, Michael I would love to see pictures of the tea room if you have any. My grandfather use to work in the kitchen when he was home on leave during World War II. My grandparents actually met at the Red River Tea House. My grandmother would often refer to it as the Lumber City Tea Room. They truly had a true love story. They loved to dance at the Tea House.

  5. Jesse Bookhardt

    Brian, Glad that you took this shot. As a former resident of Jeff Davis County, I grew up seeing this bridge as we sometimes traveled over the Ocmulgee River from Hazlehurst to Lumber City. My brother would let me ride with him over to visit the Red River Tea Room on the Telfair bank. The bridge was always best seen when a train was traveling over it.

    • Julie Barber

      I am interested in the Red River Tea Room, my grandfather, Joe Willcox, was a big part of it. Can you share any pictures or memories. Thanks!

      • Jesse M. Bookhardt

        I have no pictures of the Red River Tea Room in Lumber City. I was a young boy when I visited with my older brother Calvin. The time would have been about 1952. I remember that the place was a lively place with a juke box. It served short order food like burgers and hot dogs, etc. It was popular with people from Hazlehurst as well as with those from Telfair County. I do remember that on the northeast side of the “joint,” across highway 341, was the old Lumber City public swimming pool where my mama from Denton went as a young girl. If you look closely, today you can still see the cement casement that outlines the old swimming “hole.” The pool appears to have been filled with dirt. I have seen pictures of my mother and others there at the pool. The pictures would have been taken some time in the 1920’s or 1930’s. If you are coming from Hazlehurst to Lumber City, the Red River Tea Room sat on the left, just after you cross the Ocmulgee bridge. From the Tea Room, one had a view of the river, the railroad bridge, and the road bridge. I remember that an old telegraph/telephone line ran along the RxR right of way. The railroad was first pioneered by Col. George Hall Hazlehurst and ran from Macon to Brunswick. Its construction was interrupted by the Civil War and was not completed until 1869. The Macon, and Brunswick was never a financial success and was sold to other lines over the years. However, it was this line which created such towns as Hazlehurst, and McRae.

  6. phil

    I love to go through Lumber City ,just to get to see this bridge and area .

  7. Benjie Floyd

    Very nice. There is one in Decatur Co. on the Flint in case you don’t have it.

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