Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi

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Port Gibson, Mississippi and the surrounding area is full of history and hidden treasures. During one of our trips back to the family farm my wife and I had the chance to visit and explore a few historical locations on the way home. Our last stop was actually on the way to another stop. We were on our way out to the A.K. Shaifer House (historical landmark deep in the woods east of Port Gibson) but because of a road Closure on Rodney Road coming from Alcorn University, Google Maps routed us to the second quickest way to the house. But Google Map didn’t tell us how bad the muddy dirt road was or that the Widow’s Creek Bridge was out. Today I wanted to write about the Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi.

Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi in Our 2011 Subaru Forester

I have a fascination with old bridges and love to photograph both active and abandoned bridges. Widow’s Creek Bridge has been on my bucket list for years. But its always been to hard to get to and I will explain why later.

After pouring over maps of the area to find the best routes to get to the Shaifer house, talking with locals on one of the area Facebook Groups I became familiar with the Rodney Road closure for repairs. From my research, I also knew that their was only one good way to get to the Shaifer house (still hard to get there after it rains) and its off Rodney Road (there might be another entrance from Rodney Road). Depending on where you are driving from, the maps may give you several options. But as mentioned before not all of those options will get you there.

Coming from Rodney, MS; Google will take you through Alcorn University and then on past the Windsor Ruins. But, just before the ruins, the road is closed for repairs. Of course, Google didn’t know this so we re-routed. It was getting late so we trusted Google knew the fastest way to get to the house. This new trip took us from Rodney road to Russum Westside Road to Shalfer Road to the house. From the looks of the trip, it was an easy route and should take only about 20 minutes to get there. This was perfect. I could take some sunset pictures and plan my next visit to explore the house.

The road was great along Russum Westside but once we turned onto Shalfer Road we were glad to be in our 2011 Subaru Forester with all terrain tires. Not only was the road muddy, but it was covered in leaves making it hard to tell what parts of the road was soft mud or hard packed dirt.

As we moved more down hill the road got more narrow and muddier. We started seeing sticky mud pits and mud bogs that stretched across the road and went on for a 100 feet or so. Both were easy for our SUV to get through. But it was slow going. We couldn’t get much faster than 10 miles an hour and had over 3 miles of this rough terrain to travel. The muddy road got worse and the road lost its grading. Some spots were so bad we were dragging our trailer hitch as we came over a bump in the road. Then about 2 miles down the road we came to a very steep and muddy hill that was so soggy it was like driving on ice while on a hill. We never got past 2 miles an hour and as we wend down the hill the road started into a curve. Even as we tried to stop we couldn’t stop the car. We just slowed our ride down the hill. Luckily our all wheel drive and traction control kept us from hitting the ravine walls or going into the ditch. As we neared the bottom of the hill we saw a sign that said road closed ahead!

Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi

I pulled off the road at a good place for a turn around and got out to explore. That’s when I realized I was on the right road but the wrong side of the road. I had to cross Widow’s Creek Bridge and its been closed for decades. Once again Google failed us.

At this point its past sunset and we are past the blue hour. Its a nice shade of purple and what little light there was was fading fast. We didn’t want to be caught on this road after dark. So I took a couple of pictures and turned around. Maybe our next visit we can visit the house.

Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi

Going up the steep muddy hill was an issue. But we made it. I was in first gear all the way up and the Subaru only paused for a second as the wheels looked for better footing. Once it found it, it made it up the hill and back to the main road in about 40 minutes.

Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi in our 2011 Subaru Forester

 

The trip to the bridge and back took over an hour almost 2 hours.

History and Description of Shalfer Road

Shalfer Road has been around for 200+ years and is a narrow deep-cut gravel road. At times there are deep ruts and erosion so bad that a car won’t make it. You need a high clearance truck or SUV with 4 wheel drive and all terrain tires (street tires won’t make if its muddy).

I was told the county might maintain this road every seven or eight years. This road isn’t a high priority for them. Its not traveled that often and there is only one house along the way. I don’t know if its abandoned or a deer lease. All I can tell you is we were probably the first ones on that road all day.

Advice

If you travel this road to visit the bridge, make sure to have a full tank of gas, good hiking shoes (if you get stuck, you are hiking out to get help), and an SUV or truck with off road tires. There is no cell service until you get back to the road.

Road to Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi in our 2011 Subaru Forester

The road is very narrow and very dark at night. Drive slowly and look out for trouble ahead of you. If you plan to travel it at night. Make sure to have some off road lighting.

I have uploaded some dash cam videos of our trip to and from the bridge. The first video is 7 minutes long. I cut out a lot of time and shared some easy terrain and then the bad stuff. The second video is the highlights of the bad stuff and is about 5 minutes long. The third video is about 6 minutes long. It has about 30 seconds of extra footage, and some still pictures were added from our trip. At the end of the trail was pitch black.

Youtube degrades the video so watch the video on 1080p if you can. Since this is dash cam video you will see some mud on the windshield and the quality of the video suffers at times.

Long Video

Highlights

Added Footage

Widow’s Creek Bridge

Widow’s Creek Bridge was built in 1917 and is a Pony Truss Bridge that spans the Widow’s Creek. It is sometimes called Shaifer House Road Bridge or Shalfer Bridge.

The bridge is abandoned. Both the wood decking and the support structure is in bad shape and is in danger of collapse per BridgeHunter.com. On November 16th, 1988 the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi

The Closed road/bridge signs were tossed to the side and I could see people were recently crossing it. But large piles of dirt have been put in front of the bridge entrances. It looks like ATVs and some other vehicles have crossed it recently.

The decking looks solid at the far end but on the side that we were on you can see large holes in the center of the wood planks. Someone put sheets of plywood over the holes.

Widow’s Creek Bridge in Claiborne County, Mississippi

When you go down to the creek level and look at the structure, you can see where someone tried to strengthen the supports but it looks like it isn’t strong enough for a car to cross. I would stay off it until an engineer looks at and its repaired.

About the Images and Video

The images were shot by hand just after sunset during the blue hour with my Sony A6000 using a Sigma 30mm F.2.8 DN Lens. I then used Adobe Lightroom, Topaz Clarity and Google Nik Collection to remove noise and clean up the images. For the video I used the Roav Dash Cam C2 to capture video for our travels.

About James

James spends most of his free time using social media and loves to teach others about design, web development, CSS, SEO, and social media. He is addicted to Wordpress, social media, and technology. You can reach him on his personal website, Evolutionary Designs Blog, Do not forget to follow him on Twitter @element321

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