Originally constructed by Fred Dover as part of an industrial complex including nearby grist, saw and shingle mill; the Stovall Mill Covered Bridge we see today is a replacement built by Will Pardue in 1895 when the first was destroyed due to flooding earlier in the 1890’s; followed, years later, by the mill and dam in 1964.
All that remains of the almost 150 year old milling industry is the 36.8-foot long, covered structure that crosses the Chickamauga Creek in the small, farming town of Sautee Nacoochee.
With enough room to allow a single carriage to cross, it was an essential part of supplying corn and wood from the mills to outlying towns.
In the simplest of terms, a grist mill is where grains are ground into meal. Using the gentle current of the creek, a large wheel would turn spinning basic mechanisms and large stones inside the mill. Local farmers could bring corn, as was the staple of the times, and have it ground for sale or cooking.
During the day, there is an accommodating picnic area, as well as a historic marker free for all visitors to spend some quiet time enjoying the fresh mountain air.
However, it is said that nighttime is not as peaceful. Many local residents insist the bridge is haunted; hearing the sounds of babies crying and the wheels of horse-drawn carriages clanking across the century-old wooden planks.
The Stovall Mill Covered Bridge was featured in the 1951 movie "I'd Climb the Highest Mountain," starring Susan Hayward, Rory Calhoun, and William Lundigan, which was based on the novel, A Circuit Rider’s Wife, written in 1910 by Cora Harris.
In the movie, Lundigan plays a Methodist minister who moves to the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of north Georgia with his wife, played by Hayward.
Of course, the local townspeople from the mountains were not as welcoming to the new preacher and his wife, until time, illness and life challenges of the day allowed them to prove their muster.
Coincidentally, it is the local Crescent Hill Baptist Church, built in 1851, that would have seen the regional families through their trying times and still holds services to this day.
Directions: From Atlanta, take I-85 north to I-985 north, to Hwy. 23 west, to Hwy. 17 to Sautee, then go 3 miles north of Old Sautee Store on Hwy. 255.