DeKalb County

Contractor who hand-built bridge in 1800s becomes first Black man honored at Stone Mountain Park

STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. — Stone Mountain Park is honoring an African-American for the first time in its history.

Washington W. King built a wooden bridge by hand in Athens in the 1800s. The bridge is now being moved to Stone Mountain Park.

Channel 2′s Tyisha Fernandes was at the rededication ceremony for the bridge on Friday.

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“In this park that was built on the concept of bigotry and racism, this bridge opens a whole new opportunity in panorama for us as a state to bridge the divides that have separated us and to evolve into a better people,” DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said during the ceremony.

Thurmond says that as a child he walked across the bridge often with his father, who was a sharecropper, to take their farm’s produce to the market.

King, who was the son of a freed slave, built the bridge in Athens in 1891. He became one of the most trusted Black contractors in Georgia in the 1900s.


The bridge connected downtown Athens with the more rural parts of Clarke County. Some say it also bridged the racial divide.

The Stone Mountain Memorial Association bought the bridge and preserved it in the park.

His family says that for many years, many people did not realize the bridge that they knew as The College Avenue Bridge had been built by a Black man.

Stone Mountain Park, which is now Georgia’s most-visited tourism destination, was originally created as a Confederate memorial, making King’s honor in the park that much more meaningful to his family.

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