Stay In Clay invites you to discover the backcountry of Clay County, Kentucky: the Gateway to the Elk & Redbud Capitals of Kentucky and the Land of Swinging Bridges! Camp, hike, bike or ride. Learn about our rich Appalachian history and culture. Picnic and play at our parks, golf at Big Hickory Golf Course, view abundant wildlife and weathered barns on scenic country drives, navigate miles of ATV trails. Step back in time with our historic towns and old swinging bridges. Come explore the beautiful Appalachian mountains, Daniel Boone National Forest and the Bert T. Combs Lake & Recreational Park. Stay for a day, maybe two, and take home a memory that will last a lifetime.
Clay County's swinging bridges are historical pedestrian bridges towering above the rivers and creeks. During floods they were one of the only ways to cross the waterways. In some remote areas of Clay County, this is still true today. These suspension footbridges are often called swinging bridges because the bridge sways beneath your feet as you walk across. They are also referred to as rope bridges due to their historical origin based on the ancient Inca rope bridge.
Swinging bridges would span a wide river without the need for foundation pillars in the middle. This meant there was no obstruction to river traffic and no danger of the pier being damaged during floods. They were also cheaper to build than pier designs. Typical construction would start with a ball of twine to judge the curve and distance. The upright piers were constructed first before being pulled into position by men in boats or on horses or mules. The cable was then dragged across by hand using a wheel or pulley. Men would mix cement and haul river gravel and timbers from local farms.
Many of these historic relics of Appalachian history still tower over Goose Creek, Red Bird and the South Fork rivers in Clay County Kentucky. Visit Clay County Kentucky, the Land of Swinging Bridges, and discover the romance, history and adventure of these cherished swinging bridges.