History of Marianna’s Bellamy Bridge | Florida

The history of the Bellamy Bridge dates back to 1851 when it was first built by Dr. Horace Ely and Bird B.Hathaway. Located on the upper section of Chipola River, the bridge was has served residents of the area for hundreds of years.

However, the low-lying area where the bridge is has been a known crossing point since 1686 when Spanish explorer Marcos Delgado and his entourage crossed the river on horses; the riverbank where Bellamy Bridge is matches the geographic descriptions recorded in Delgado’s journal. In March 1818, a bloody battle happened at Upper Chipola (where Bellamy Bridge is) when the U.S. forces led by brigadier general William McIntosh attacked refuge camps lived by people in the Lower Creek town of Ekanachatte. An estimated 10 soldiers were killed while over 180 men, women and children were captured and brought back to McIntosh’s camp. The confrontation became known as the Battle of the Upper Chipola.

Bellamy Bridge steel structure
Bellamy Bridge | Image credits: Northwest Florida Water Management District

Eighteen years after the deadly battle, Dr. Edward C. Bellamy and his wife Ann Bellamy purchased the land where Bellamy Bridge is today and moved in the area. Bellamy was the brother-in-law of Elizabeth Jane Croom Bellamy, the infamous ghost that is said to haunt Bellamy Bridge.

In 1851, a wooden bridge was constructed by Dr. Horace Ely and Bird B. Hathaway on Bellamy’s land. The bridge became an important river crossing point for a new road (built by Jackson County Board) that stretched from Campbellton to Port Jackson. A replacement bridge was later built in 1872 to replace the decaying wooden bridge. Unfortunately, the new bridge was destroyed just two years after its construction when a major storm flooded the Chipola River. A third bridge was immediately commissioned to replace the missing bridge. Now made with steel, the bridge weathered the storm and lasted for over 40 years. The last replacement happened in 1914 when Converse Bridge & Steel Company was commissioned to replace the existing steel bridge with a new and sturdier steel bridge.

However, with the completion of a concrete bridge on CR-162 in 1963, Bellamy Bridge was no longer necessary. For the next 50 years, the abandoned Bellamy bridge languished unmaintained and unsecured.

In the early 2010s, attempts were made to restore the century-old bridge. The Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail eventually opened to give visitors access to the historic bridge. Today, Bellamy Bridge is the oldest steel-frame bridge in Florida as well as one of the most haunted bridge in the United States.

Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail

On November 1, 2012, the one-and-a-half mile Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail opened to the public, giving visitors a glimpse into the iconic crossing point that locals have used for over a century. The heritage trail was a joint partnership between Friends of Bellamy Bridge, Northwest Florida Water Management District and Jackson County Parks & Recycling.

trail along bellamy bridge
Resting point along Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail | Image credits: TroyTRAVELJUNKIE @ Tripadvisor

Along the trail, visitors can walk along some of the most scenic spots in and around Florida. However, the most popular event at the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail is none other than the popular Bellamy Bridge Ghost Walks. The ghost walk, which takes place every year on the Friday and Saturday just before Halloween, is an after dark guided tour where participants will get to visit the historic Bellamy Bridge and learn about its history and the haunting stories behind it. The tour is hosted by Southern writer and author of The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge: 10 Ghosts & Monsters from Jackson County, Florida Dale Cox. The tour is free of charge, although donations for trail maintenance are highly encouraged.

However, the trail is frequently flooded by flood waters from the Chipola due to the fact that it was built on the low lying areas of the woods. Updates on the trail accessibility can be found on the Bellamy Bridge Historic Site Facebook page.

To reach the trailhead of Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail, drive approximately 5.5 miles westbound along Jacob Road from Greenwood. The trailhead can be found via a small path located on the left of the road, just after the crossing of Chipola River via the concrete bridge.

Hauntings at Bellamy Bridge

Dubbed the most haunted spot in Florida, Bellamy Bridge has attracted countless paranormal investigators and thrill seekers to visit the historic structure.

Numerous hauntings have been reported around the bridge. These include the manifestation of a headless driver that meanders along the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail on his ghostly wagon. Another terrifying haunting tells of the spirit of moonshiner Sylvester Hart. He was said to have been shot and killed near Bellamy Bridge after getting into an confrontation with other local moonshiner over missing liquor and the transportation of the goods.

orb on bellamy bridge
Mysterious orb captured at Bellamy Bridge by local historian Dale Cox | Image credits: Bellamy Bridge Historic Site official Facebook page

However, the most popular resident ghost at Bellamy Bridge is none other than Elizabeth Jane Croom Bellamy, a young woman who married her sweetheart Samuel C. Bellamy. However, three years into their marriage, Elizabeth unexpectedly passed away on May 11, 1837 after contracting malaria. Their 18-month-old son passed away seven days later from the same illness. The mother and son was buried together in a grove of trees near Bellamy Bridge. As the story goes, Samuel plunged into depression. For the next 15 years, he lived day to day in a state of intoxication. Eventually, Samuel committed suicide with a straight razor slit across his throat. His dying wish to be buried beside his family was ignored and he was buried in an unmarked grave in a cemetery at Chattahoochee.

Now, the spirit of Elizabeth is said to haunt the swamps of Bellamy Bridge, seemingly to look for Samuel as she had promised to love him “forever and always”. Visitors on Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail have reported seeing strange lights appearing in the woods as well as mist appearing from nowhere.

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