The Land Of Swinging Bridges
Stay In Clay County Kentucky
 

The Land of Swinging Bridges

Though Clay County is bent on looking forward and progressing toward a bright new future, Clay Countians everywhere keep in their heart romantic images of their past.

Nothing evokes such notions as do the county's numerous swinging bridges across Goose Creek, Red Bird and the South Fork rivers. The brooding colors of the old bridges are the very stuff of soulful memories, and are worth seeking out as you drive around the county.

A suspension bridge is an early type of bridge that is supported entirely from anchors at either end, suspended from two high locations over a river or canyon. This type of bridge is also known as a rope bridge due to its historical construction based on the ancient Inca rope bridge.

A good many of Clay County's historic bridges remain, but many have succumbed to aging and are continuing to do so year after year.

Keep your camera handy as you pass these reminders of a simpler time. It may be your last chance.

RULES: Be mindful of all property owners at the end of the bridge. Do not litter, no bouncing on bridge, and a limit of 4 people or 800 lbs. on the bridges at one time. If you don’t enjoy following road directions, download the FREE app called Geocaching.com.  Open the map, focus in on Clay County and you will find all swinging bridges- they are marked SB – and the name. Example: SB-OBI

1. Goose Creek Swinging Bridge

From 911 Center exit parking lot to right, get in left turning lane after the 1st light  - turn left at 2nd light (go across big concrete bridge.) At end of bridge turn left onto Hwy 2432. Take first drive to the left onto Riverside Trail.

The Goose Creek Swinging Bridge in Downtown Manchester has recently been restored. Those brave at heart can cross the bridge, which connects Manchester on the Square to the River Walk Trail and park system. The Goose Creek Swinging Bridge was originally constructed to replace the old wagon bridge that was washed away in the Flood of 1947. This unique icon of cultural heritage literally connects the area's history...the Heritage Pavilion on the Square to the Warrior's Path on the other side of Goose Creek. Walking the Old Swinging Bridge takes you back in time. It is located on the actual route taken by Daniel Boone in 1769, and before him, Dr. Thomas Walker when returning to Virginia after constructing the first building in Kentucky in 1750.

2. Frazier Road Swinging Bridge

From 911 Center exit parking lot to the left onto Hwy 421 heading North. Travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11. Go North (right) on Hwy 11 for 4 miles to Frazier Road on the right. (If you see mile marker 13 – YOU JUST PASSED IT!) Go 0.4 mile (veer right at Goose Creek to stay on Frazier Road).

This work of art, hanging above the Goose Creek, was recently restored by local families to allow pedestrian access over the river during flooding.

For a scenic drive back to Manchester, travel 5.3 miles ending at Hwy 421.

3. Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge

From Frazier Road go back to Hwy 11 and turn right. Travel 6 miles to Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge on your right across from Vinland Gas Co.

From 911 Center parking lot exit left onto Hwy 421, heading North on Hwy 421. Travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 – turn right and travel 10 miles to the swinging bridge on the right directly across from Vinland Gas Co.

This unique, all-metal swinging bridge, is located 1.4 miles south of Oneida, KY on the east side of KY-11 across from the gas plant. There is also a low water driving bridge offering photo opportunities.

Just a few minutes south of the swinging bridge, take an incredibly scenic drive on Sutton Branch Road. Go south on KY-11 South for 4.2 miles. Turn left onto Beech Creek Rd, then left onto Chandler Br Road, then right onto Sutton Branch Road. 

4. OBI Swinging Bridge

From Old Homeplace Swinging Bridge continue one mile to the quaint community of Oneida. You can see OBI dorms on the right – travel onto the campus. You might have to ask for directions, but the bridge is on the backside of OBI campus connecting staff housing with the campus.

From 911 Center exit left on Hwy 421, heading North on Hwy 421.  Travel 6 miles to the intersection of Hwy 11 – turn right and travel 11 miles to the community of Oneida. The bridge is on the backside of OBI campus.

This well maintained swinging bridge is located on the south side of the Oneida Baptist Institute campus in Oneida, KY. It connects the ball fields on the campus to OBI Farm Road. Also on the campus is the James Anderson Burns' Museum & Gift Shop. The two room museum offers a glimpse into the rich and fascinating history of the area. The Oneida Baptist Institute was founded in 1899 by Professor James Anderson Burns as a way to help stop the feuding at the end of the 19th Century. It has grown into an outreach to young people from around the world. The large gift shop includes handmade items by volunteers. Nearby is the Oneida Park, the South Fork of the Kentucky River and numerous back-roads providing stunning scenery, an abundance of nature and wildlife, family farms, rivers and creeks, rolling mountains and historic weathered barns.

5. Rocky Branch Swinging Bridge

From OBI Campus take Hwy 11 North, travel approximately 5 miles to Rocky Branch Road on the right. Travel approx. 2 miles to the Rocky Branch Swinging Bridge which crosses the South Fork of the KY River. 

This cherished relic of times gone, still in use, hangs above the Kentucky River in a breathtakingly beautiful location. Additional historic attractions nearby include Laurel Point Cemetery: Revolutionary War Veteran Adoniram Allen Final Resting Place, and the Cedar Valley School Ruins. To reach the cemetery, cross the low water bridge near the Swinging Bridge. Follow the gravel road, New Found Rd, to Laurel Point Cemetery. The cemetery is on the right. Beyond the cemetery, about a mile or so, turn left on Cedar Valley Road and follow it a short distance to the Cedar Valley School Ruins. The school is on the left in a field.

This is the longest bridge spanning approx. 200 feet and a thrill to cross.

6. CountyLine Swinging Bridge

From 911 Center parking lot, exit lot to left, travel Hwy 421 N for 10 miles  to Hwy 577. Travel on Hwy 577 for 9.5 miles to the swinging bridge. (Notice through this beautiful stretch of road the log cabins.) The bridge is on the right. This bridge is very close to the Clay/Owsley County line. This is a great beginner bridge.

7. Farmer Road (Red Bird) Swinging Bridge

From Manchester take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit. Turn right onto Hwy 66, travel .6 miles then turn right on Hwy 80, travel .8 miles then turn left on Hwy 66, travel 4 miles, bridge on the left. 

8. Bar (Bear) Creek Swinging Bridge

From Manchester take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit, turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 6.9 miles, the bridge is on the left. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE - UNDER CONSTRUCTION– JUST ENJOY THE VIEW.

9. Laurel Branch Road Swinging Bridge

From Manchester take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit. Turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 7.8 miles, turn left onto Laurel Branch Road, the bridge is on the left. DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION – JUST ENJOY THE VIEW. 

10. Antepast Swinging Bridge

From Oneida head SE toward Big Creek from Oneida on Hwy 66. Travel 5 miles to the Antepast Church on the right. The bridge is located on the backside of the parking lot.

From Manchester take the Hal Rogers Parkway East toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit, turn left onto Hwy 66, travel 8.4 miles, church is on the left side of the road – look for Antepast Church sign.

11. Martin Cemetery Road Swinging Bridge

NOTE: Please be respectful and quiet if services are in session inside the church. 

From Manchester take the Hal Rogers Parkway E toward Hazard, take Big Creek Exit. Turn left onto Hwy 66, travel approx. 9 miles, the bridge is on the left.  DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION - JUST ENJOY THE VIEW.

12. Antioch Church Swinging Bridge

From Manchester 911 Center parking lot, exit right and travel Hwy 421 for 1.2 miles, turn left at light (next to McDonalds) onto Hwy 80 for 1.2 miles. Turn right onto Hwy 11, travel 8.3 miles, bridge is on the left side of road.  DO NOT TRY TO CROSS THIS BRIDGE – UNDER CONSTRUCTION – JUST ENJOY THE VIEW. 

Historic Weathered Barns of Clay County

While visiting the swinging bridges of Clay County, enjoy the many historic barns located throughout Clay's back country.

Proud guardian of the countryside, the barn stands solemnly as a lasting reminder of America's rural heritage. But the barn has begun to disappear from the American landscape. Obsolete for modern farming needs and too expensive to maintain as family heirlooms, old barns appear destined to be preserved only in photographs and memories.

Old farm buildings of the countryside contribute to the landscape, and help define the history of the location, i.e. how farming was carried out in the past, and how the area has been settled throughout the ages. They also can show the agricultural methods, building materials, and skills that were used. Most were built with materials reflecting the local geology of the area.

Barns are working buildings; they are the largest tool on a farm. Like any tool, their shape and size reflects the way in which they are used. Just as the tip of a screwdriver will tell what type of screw it is meant to be used with, a barn's shape, size and attributes reflect the job it was intended to do.

As farming practices developed over time, the types of barns that farmers built also changed. Although family farms continue to operate as suppliers for local population centers, the middle of the twentieth century heralded the decline of small farms. Changes in the way American's ate, increasing property values, and the growth of giant agribusinesses meant that family farms had a difficult time making a living. As farms went out of business, many of their barns became unused. Since the buildings were no longer needed, they were no longer maintained. The result was demolition by neglect.

Another threat to the farms and barns also appeared in the second half of the 20th century - development. Since the farms could no longer generate enough income through their produce, a new way of getting money out of the land was sought. The result was the process, which continues today, of turning farmland into developments that have no place for a barn.

Today, a renewed awareness for the important place of barns in America's past and present is making progress in preserving this physical reminder of our agricultural heritage.

Just as the mountains have served to isolate the Clay County area, preserving forests, waterways and wildlands, they have also helped to protect our countryside from the development that has plagued much of America's farmland. As a result, historic barns are a common site in and around Clay County.

Clay County Kentucky Quilt Trail

There is a quality about quilts that evokes a feeling of comfort, of home and family. Quilting is a tradition that thrives in Kentucky, not as a nostalgic reminder of days gone by, but as a vibrant part of community life.

Grandmothers still sew quilts for grandchildren; quilters still get together to share patterns and gossip; family members still cherish the quilts that were made for them by loving hands.

In the past, quilts might have been seen warming a bed, gracing a couch or flapping on a clothesline, but with the advent of the Kentucky Quilt Trail, images of quilts now blossom as bright patterns on the sides of weathered barns and other buildings across the commonwealth.

The Quilt Trail project began in Adams County, Ohio, when Donna Sue Groves, a field representative for the Ohio Arts Council, decided that she wanted a quilt square painted on her barn to honor her mother, a lifelong quilter. Donna Sue shared her idea with friends in the community, who offered their help. They decided that if they were going to paint one quilt square on a barn, they might as well paint twenty and create a driving tour to attract tourists to their rural community. The project was such a success that word of it traveled quickly, and soon other communities were contacting Donna Sue asking if they could join in the project. Donna Sue offered her enthusiastic support. 

The Quilt Trail project has taken deep root in Kentucky and spread quickly. The project has spread as a grassroots movement with each community introducing its own twist, painting quilt squares not only on barns, but also on floodwalls, craft shops and restaurants.

Volunteer leaders and painters include extension agents, teachers, school children, senior citizens, homemaking clubs and tourism committees. The local utility company often provides a bucket truck and workers, who hang the quilts on barns, delighted to be part of this heartwarming community project. 

Many Kentucky literary artists weave the imagery of quilts throughout their stories and poems as symbols of family unity through hard times or as an expression of the connection that Kentuckians feel to their home-place. Kentucky painters often include quilts in their landscapes.

Discover the Clay County Kentucky Quilt trail on your travels throughout Clay County...including its towns, hamlets and countryside.

Join The Movement

"Stay In Clay" is comprised of progressive Clay County residents who have come together to cross all boundaries of race, economic, and social class, to empower our people, bond our community, and strengthen our local economy...to move Clay County forward with pride and purpose.

Stay in Clay is a group formed to help boost the spirit, pride, and morale of our people and help improve the look and condition of our hometown/county. We want Manchester and Clay County to be the place people want to live, stay, retire, visit, come home to!

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