The Florida Panhandle is often called “the other Florida” or the “forgotten coast” since it’s far away from the attractions and other developments in the peninsula. This is a land of piney woods, Karst region sink holes and limestone caves, spring-fed rivers, deep swamps, and ghost stories.
Growing up in Tallahassee, I heard many of these, but seldom went out to investigate—except for a brief side trip over one of the state’s oldest bridges over the Chipola River north of Marianna. I last saw the bridge in 1962; it was ancient then. (I didn’t see the ghost!) The bridge was abandoned soon after that when a new road and a new bridge were built. While the bridge still stands, it has only been visible via paddle trips since the road leading to it was closed and reverted to private ownership.
Historian and author Dale Cox recently presented a plan to Jackson County for a heritage trail to the bridge via public lands to the west of the river. That project was approved and the trail is now open for use. You can learn more about the project on its Facebook page.
Cox has just released The Ghost of Bellamy Bridge to help support the trail project. The legend about this haunted bridge has been around for about 150 years, and is among Florida’s oldest ghost stories. In this new book, Cox tells the story as the old timers always heard it, Then he tells the story behind the story.
From the publisher: Cox opens his investigation with the much loved legend of young Elizabeth Jane Bellamy, the 18-year-old bride of a wealthy doctor. She supposedly died in a wedding night tragedy and now haunts the environs of a nearly century old bridge that spans the Chipola River north of Marianna, Florida.
For dedicated ghost hunters, Cox also features nine other stories, including “The Two Egg Stump Jumper” and “The Wild Man of Ocheesee Pond.”