Located near Opelika, between Salem and Shotwell , down a little-used dirt road, sits the Salem-Shotwell Covered Bridge, also known as the Pea Ridge Covered Bridge. It is one of only thirteen authentic covered bridges remaining in Alabama. A fine example of a type of bridge design known as the Town Lattice Truss (named for its designer, Connecticut architect Ithiel Town), the c. 1900 bridge was constructed of sawmill lumber, crisscrossed like a garden trellis, double-pegged at each intersection, and stiffened at the top and bottom by long horizontal chords. The resulting trusses form, in effect, a ribbon of interlocking triangles capable of supporting tremendous weight without sagging.
Currently, the bridge needs structural repair, having shifted on its foundations during a flood. The Lee County Commission, however, has been reluctant to spend money on repairing or maintaining the historic bridge and recently considered selling it to an entrepreneur from Georgia who wanted to move it to his own property. Only a concerted effort by a local support group and the Historic Chattahoochee Commission convinced the county commission to refuse the sale. T he support group has made plans to coat the bridge with a fire-retardant chemical, a treatment routinely applied to historic covered bridges in New England and ocher parts of the country by the county commissions that maintain them.
Alabama's Endangered Historic Landmarks
Each year since 1994, Alabama Heritage has highlighted threatened historic sites throughout Alabama. The “Places in Peril” list has identified more than 215 imperiled historic resources throughout the state, and is compiled by the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The locations highlight the results of deferred maintenance, perceived obsolescence, development pressures, and lack of funding—forces that now more than ever threaten our cultural legacy. But awareness is a powerful force, too, and can cultivate a renewed determination to be responsible stewards of our heritage. For more information, visit the AHC or the ATHP websites. Alabama Heritage is proud to bring to you a selection of the places designated as perilous. Please keep your comments to information relevant to the featured place in peril. Alabama Heritage reserves the right to delete any comment that we deem inappropriate.