Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Interpretive Kiosk erected at Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail!

New Interpretive Kiosk at Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail

The first of a number of planned interpretive panels have gone up at the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail in Jackson County.

Located at 4057 Jacob Road (Highway 162) north of Marianna, the trail provides a beautiful one-half mile walk to historic and reportedly haunted Bellamy Bridge. Please note  that the entrance to Bellamy Bridge is no longer on Bellamy Bridge Road. Visitors must now enter from the new parking lot on Highway 162 (Jacob Road). It is on the left 1/10 of one mile west of the modern bridge over the Chipola River.

New Kiosk and the entrance to the Trail
The new interpretive kiosk is the first of eleven planned interpretive stations that are being placed as part of the marking of the new Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail, a driving tour of places in Jackson County with a connection to Florida's Spanish history. It features two panels, the first of which tells the story of the Bellamy Bridge area in Spanish Colonial times.

It was somewhere near Bellamy Bridge that Spanish explorer Marcos Delgado crossed the Chipola River in September 1686. Instructed to march northwest from Mission San Luis (present-day Tallahassee) to investigate reports of French intrusion in Spanish territory along the Mississippi River, Delgado crossed the Apalachicola River into Jackson County following a pathway that should be considered the real Old Spanish Trail.

Closer View of the new Kiosk, trail entrance in the background.
His journal mentions passing Mission San Carlos, which will also be a stop on the new Jackson County Spanish Heritage Trail, before passing on to Blue Springs , another stop on the new driving tour, and then turning north and west to the Chipola River in what is now the Bellamy Bridge vicinity. Delgado and his followers crossed the river before passing out of Jackson County near what is now Campbellton. He described seeing buffalo grazing not long after he crossed the river.

The Interpretive Panels in the new Kiosk
The kiosk also tells the story of the Battle of the Upper Chipola, an important battle of the First Seminole War. The fight took place in March 1818 between the U.S. allied Creek Brigade of Brig. Gen. William McIntosh and the Red Stick warriors of the chief Econchattimico ("Red Ground King). Econchattimico and his men were defeated and 20 of his men were killed while more than 150 other men, women and children were captured. According to Gen. McIntosh's report, the battle took place on the west side of the Chipola River about two miles below the forks of the creek where the river is formed. That would place its location as being somewhere in the vicinity of the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail, although the exact site of the battlefield has never been found.

Finally, of course, the new interpretive kiosk tells the story of the famed Ghost of Bellamy Bridge. It is said by many that the restless ghost of Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, a young woman who died during antebellum times, haunts Bellamy Bridge and its vicinity. Her story is deeply embedded in the culture and folklore of Florida and is a special part of Jackson County's history.

A special "ghost walk" to commemorate "The Night Elizabeth Died" will begin at the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail parking area at 7:30 p.m. (Central) on Saturday night, May 11th.  The public is invited and the guided tour and ghost story telling is absolutely free!  Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a flashlight and mosquito repellent if you come!

The new kiosk was funded by the Jackson County Tourist Development Council using money generated by a tax on hotel accommodations. No property tax dollars have been expended on the kiosk or the trail.

To learn more about the Bellamy Bridge Heritage Trail and to obtain directions, please visit www.bellamybridge.org. You can read more about the Ghost of Bellamy Bridge at www.exploresouthernhistory.com/bellamybridge.

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