Horace King, Master Bridge Builder

Horace King, Master Bridge Builder

By Janell Williams

Today, it is easy enough to cross the Chattahoochee River to go from Columbus to Phenix City. However, bridges have not always spanned the Chattahoochee.

In 1832, a contract to construct the first public bridge over the river, Dillingham Bridge, was given to a South Carolinian named John Godwin (b.1798-1859). When Godwin began building the bridge that same year, he had at his side a talented black man whose name would become one of the most celebrated in architectural history of East Alabama and West Central Georgia: Horace King.


King, a South Carolina native born into slavery in 1807, became known as a master builder of bridges and buildings in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. His freedom from slavery was accomplished by Godwin’s petition submitted to the Alabama General Assembly in 1846.

By the 1870s, King had built his famous “lattice bridges” over the Chattahoochee River (at West Point, Columbus, Ft. Gaines), the Flint River (at Albany), and the Oconee River (at Milledgeville). Before the end of his life, King was even known as a political figure, having served in the post-Civil War Alabama Legislature as a state representative from Russell County.

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