Historic bridge gets much-needed repairs
INSPECTION Lauderdale County road crewmen show District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell a hole in Stuckey Bridge. The bridge is getting a complete workover this week. Pictured from left are Assistant Road Manager Ernest West, Boswell, County Engineer Neal Carson and equipment operator Paul Stevens.Photo by Marianne Todd/The Meridian Star.
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Stuckey Bridge Road was closed Monday for bridge repairs. Lauderdale County road road crews hope to complete work on the historic bridge by Friday.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History officials declared Stuckey Bridge a historic landmark in 1987, according to documents at the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau. Carson said Archives and History officials don't have to authorize the work because replacing slats won't change the bridge's appearance.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell put the project at the top of the road and bridge priority list for his district.
Boswell said many boards were missing when he took office a year ago, and new boards were put in the empty spaces.
He said the cost of repairing the bridge will be minimal, $10,000 to $15,000 for materials, and a total cost of $25,000 to $30,000 including labor done by county employees.
The bridge, built in the mid-19th century, is Lauderdale County's oldest bridge. Located in the southwest corner of the county off the Savoy exit of Interstate 59, it spans the Chunky River near Meehan. Lauderdale County Tourism documents list the original contract on the bridge to have been let in 1847.
Of course, it is known more for its ghost stories. The bridge is reputed to be haunted by an outlaw named Stuckey who was reportedly a member of the infamous Dalton Gang. The story is that Stuckey had an inn and used it as a front to rob and then kill the wealthy who roomed there. Folklorists say he buried the bodies along the river bank and was later hung from the bridge for his crimes. People claim to have seen his ghost walking the bridge at night with a lantern.
The bridge was recently featured in "Shadows and Cypress," a book of Southern ghost stories collected by University of West Alabama professor Dr. Alan Brown. It is also featured on the GhostLabs Research Society's Web site www.ghostlabs.com which has a Meridian chapter link.
Carson said if for no other reason, the bridge should be repaired "so old man Stuckey won't stub his toe."
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at email@example.com.