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Tales from the Dark Corner: Klickety-Klack Bridge

Tales from the Dark Corner: Klickety-Klack Bridge

Photo by Dean Stuart Campbell

By Dean Campbell, the Squire of Dark Corner.  This is from a series that appears in the News Leader newspaper in Landrum, SC chronicling the culture and history of "the Dark Corner of SC."

A surprising sight suddenly greets motorists as they travel west on the Cherokee Foothills National Scenic Byway (SC 11) just 2.3 miles from its junction with SC 14 in the heart of Gowensville.  On the north side of the byway—at the entrance to Look Away Farm—stands a magnificent, 21st Century, covered bridge just off the roadway’s shoulder.  It is known as the Klickety-Klack Covered Bridge.

This unique, open-sided, modern covered bridge was built as a gift to local Dark Corner residents and visitors to the scenic highway as it traverses the Upcountry of South Carolina.  Don Spann, owner of Look Away Farm on the side and top of Squirrel Mountain, conceived the idea after realizing that the Dark Corner is home to the state’s oldest standing bridge, Poinsett’s, built in the 19th Century, and to the state’s sole-surviving, extant, covered bridge, Campbell’s, built in the 20th Century.  He decided to build a 21st Century bridge that would have its own uniqueness.

Thus, two Christian gentlemen, Spann and Troy Coffey, began a labor of love that required the help of a third partner, a tractor called “Ole Blue.”  An entrepreneur and designer par excellence, Spann not only designed the intricate structure to span a wide rain drainage expanse adjacent to his driveway, but designed a unique lifting apparatus for “Ole Blue” that would allow two men to effectively handle the gigantic, extremely heavy, wooden timbers needed to construct the bridge. 

Passersby during construction of the upper portion of the bridge would marvel that such heavy beams could be lifted and melded by only two, average-sized workmen. They did not quickly assimilate the tremendous assistance that “Ole Blue” and its lifting arm provided.  Heavy beams, cross beams, rafters and vertical supports formed an intricate pattern as they met and were joined together by plates bolted in all directions to ensure there would be no movement in any. This bridge had to stand unconditionally upright, matching the integrity of its two builders.
One concession to absolute tautness, however, was exercised.  Though built as strongly as a fortress, the floor timbers of the bridge are attached to support spans in a scattered pattern to provide a nostalgic “klickety-klack” of older bridges as vehicles pass over them.

The bridge features both a vehicle and a pedestrian pass way through it. Vehicular or foot traffic can move through the bridge and take an asphalted, circular driveway back to the scenic highway without disturbing Spann’s private drive into the property.

Neighbors and travelers are invited to do so, for a short, nostalgic retreat into a more romantic slice of Americana.

Click here for a map and directions to all 3 bridges mentioned in this article.