Magnolia Plantation’s famous Long Bridge is still under construction one month after a maple tree fell nearby, crushing a portion of the 180-year-old structure.
“The tree had fallen and crushed about 40 percent of the railing and the lattice detailing,” said Kirk Brown, Magnolia’s national outreach coordinator. “It had fallen in such a way that it had twisted the bridge off of the horizontal and vertical plane.”
Historic records do not indicate whether the bridge was built by the enslaved people at Magnolia or by craftsmen, many of whom were black. “We do not have any records from before the Civil War,” said Caroline Howell, Magnolia program director and researcher.
On July 7, after a week of heavy rain, a tree fell on top of the bridge’s deck. The next day, Magnolia and Historic Charleston Foundation examined the bridge to begin the restoration process.
Kirk Brown, Magnolia’s national outreach coordinator, said the Long Bridge has been reconstructed or restored on average every 30-40 years. “The bridge we are restoring today is not, nor could it ever be, exactly what the bridge was in 1840,” he said.
Congaree Champions, a business that specializes in the recovery of old-growth sinker cypress and heart pine, will provide cypress for the bridge and Ashley River Lumber will mill it into its final dimensions.
Magnolia has not announced when the bridge will reopen to the public.