Laurel Fork Bridge Near Bitter End (1997)

Fifteen of us ignored the weather forecast and the drizzle to build a bridge. We knew beforehand that the bridge over Laurel Fork, Trail south of Bitter End, was rickety and needed to be replaced. Our timing was good as when we reached the bridge on Saturday morning, we found that it had collapsed! Several Club members had drilled the holes and generally prepared the bridge for installation earlier in the week, so once we got the material to the site, it went up pretty quickly.

It took all of us, and we could have used more, to carry the material in almost a mile from Bitter End to the creek. Several people had to make three trips, with considerable up and down, and Steve Wilson was pretty impressive at carrying a 4 foot 10″x10″ footing by himself (while four of us carried the other one). The work by and large went very well. We did have one mishap when Derrick slipped and got his finger hit with a hammer. He was taken to the hospital but nothing was broken. Once we completed the bridge, we took some of the old planks and used them to build two bog bridges close to Bitter End. It was an extremely productive day. Helping were Steve Banks, Collins Chew, Mary Cunningham, Joe DeLoach, Carl Fritz, John Kiefer, Tim McClain, Ted Malone, Bill Murdoch, Darrol Nickels, Ed Oliver, Steve Perri, Bill Stowell, Derrick Stowell, and Steve Wilson.

The bridge is based on a U.S. Forest Service design, with enhancements by TEHCC. The same design was used by TEHCC on the bridges which cross Bear Branch and Jones Branch.

Note: on January 8-9, 1998, torrential rains struck Carter County, Tennessee. Seven people drowned in the resulting flash floods. This bridge was submerged in water, two feet above the highest point on the bridge (the handrail). However, it survived the flooding intact — although the approaches were washed away.