IF YOU GO
What: Rededication ceremony for Alexander's Bridge
Where: Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, Chickamauga, Ga.
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 6
Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park officials are planning a rededication ceremony and open house for Alexander's Bridge at the Chickamauga Battlefield.
Built in 1902, the bridge was closed to vehicles in February 2009 after being deemed structurally unsound to support them. It reopened to all traffic on Dec. 23 after completely closing last spring to allow for a new bridge's installation.
It was necessary to have a bridge that could be used not only to connect the gap across West Chickamauga Creek, but also to bridge the gap between the past and present, park spokeswoman Cathy Cook said.
"It's important to preserve the cultural landscape and to understand the battle strategies, barriers and hardships that happened here," she said.
It was at Alexander's Bridge in 1863 that the Union used Spencer repeating rifles to fend off Confederates in the Civil War, Cook said. The repeating rifles were first used in the Civil War.
"We're going to have a demonstration of that at the open house, and we'll also have a replica of the rifle on display," she said.
The open house is set for March 3 at the park headquarters from 2:30-4:30 p.m.
The bridge has gone through several renovations since the 1863 Battle of Chickamauga. In 1887, it was replaced with a wooden, low-truss bridge, then replaced again in 1907 with a steel truss. That bridge lasted until 2009.
"The new bridge will be a one-lane bridge just like the old one," Cook said. "The bridge is an important crossing point for the community, and it's part of history."
The old Alexander's Bridge will find a new home soon at Holland-Watson Memorial Park in Chickamauga, Ga., to help continue preserving that area's history. It will act as a pavilion for pedestrians visiting the park, Chickamauga City Manager John Culpepper said.
"That bridge is over 100 years old, so we didn't want to just cut it up for scrap metal," he said. "We've lost too much history over the last 50 years and replaced it with modern junk."