Days Gone By - stories from the past

Do you know where the first toll bridge in Alabama was located in 1929? [see photograph]

First Toll bridge in Alabama is now a historic landmark

The first toll bridge in Alabama to be officially dedicated was the John Turner Milner Bridge, located at Cochrane, in Pickens County, Alabama. The dedication took place in the forenoon of Thursday, December 12, 1929.

Crowd gathered for the dedication of the John T. Milner Bridge in Cochrane, Alabama.

john turner milner bridge dedication

Milner Bridge was named after an industrialist

The Milner Bridge was presented to Judge Woolsey Finnell, President of the Alabama Bridge Corporation, by the contractors, Hampton, Kinniard and Hampton. Lieutenant-Governor W. C. Davis felicitated the Corporation upon the happy results of the bill which the  Legislature had passed.

An address on the life and achievements of Col. John T. Milner, Industrialist, was made by Gen. R. S. Steiner, Col. Milner’s daughter, Mrs. C. P. Orr, unveiled the name tablet. Hon. B. C. Robinson, Probate Judge of Pickens County, presided over the exercises which were concluded by elaborate hospitalities.

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Colonel John Turner Milner

milner, john turner milner

The John T. Milner Bridge at Cochrane, Alabama, spanning the Tombigbee River, is located in a section of Alabama rich in history. Pickens County has existed as a County unit for more than 100 years, having been created by an Act of the Legislature, December 19, 1820.

John T. Milner Bridge 1929

john t. milner bridge cochrane

The County bears the name of Gen Andrew Pickens of South Carolina, who won renown in the Revolutionary War. The first court in the county was held in the residence of Jacob Danby near the present town of Pickensville, which later became the first County seat, that honor, however,  passing to Carrollton in 1830.

De Soto visited some of the Indian villages

Pickens County is situated within the domain claimed by the Choctaw Indians; its northern boundary line being in fact the boundary line between the Choctaw and the  Chickasaw country. DeSoto in his travels through Alabama visited some of the Indian villages near the confluence of the Sipsey and Tombigbee Rivers.

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The area, while claimed by the Choctaws, was really a part of the great neutral hunting ground established in prehistoric days and frequented in hunting seasons by the Choctaws, Chickasaws and Creeks. Along the Tombigbee River are found several Indian mounds and town sites.

DeSoto passed through the county in the winter of 1540 after the great battle with Tuscaloosa at Mauvilla. The Spaniards found the territory thickly peopled and an abundance of maize on which to sustain their army.

De Soto and men crossing the Tombigbee River on rafts, probably in Marengo County, Alabama. John William Orr engraver 1858

De soto crossing tombigbee

First white settler was Josiah Tilly

The first white settler in the county was Josiah Tilly, a native of North Carolina, later become a trader among the Choctaws. The second settler was Jonathan York whose daughter, Catherine, was the first white child born in the county. The Tombigbee River is one of the main branches of the Alabama Tombigbee River system.

The name was originally “EtembaIgaby,” given to one of the contributory creeks forming the river, the designation being made by the Indians owing to the fact that upon the banks of that creek lived the “box maker” whose business it was to make the boxes into which the Indians placed the bones of their dead.

The name of the creek was called by the French who visited that section in the early part of the eighteenth century “Tombeekbe.” The Americans who followed the French finally gave the name “Tombigbee” to the river itself.


  1. The Alabama Historical Quarterly Vol I, N. 3, Fall Issue 1930

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. I didnt know we had a toll bridge

  2. This might have been the first toll bridge for automobiles. There were plenty of other toll bridges around before this one.

  3. “forenoon” means morning.

  4. This is not Correct the first Known toll in 1863 to 1866 Was on the Tennessee River it A fairy owned by chief Colbert he charged union troops to cross.

  5. A fairy is not a bridge

    1. Eggzactly, thats my point!

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