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Today, it is easy enough to cross the Chattahoochee River in order to go from Columbus to Phenix City; it is simply a matter of choosing the bridge that is most convenient for the traveler. However, bridges have not always spanned the Chattahoochee.

In 1832, a contract for construction of the first public bridge over the river, Dillingham Bridge, was given to a South Carolinian named John Godwin (b.1798-1859). When Godwin began building the bridge that same year, he had at his side a talented black man whose name would become one of the most celebrated in architectural history of East Alabama and West Central Georgia: Horace King.

King, a South Carolina native who was born into slavery in 1807, became known as a master builder of bridges and buildings in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. His freedom from slavery was accomplished by Godwin’s petition submitted to the Alabama General Assembly in 1846.

By the 1870s, King had built his famous “lattice bridges” over the Chattahoochee River (at West Point, Columbus, Ft. Gaines), the Flint River (at Albany), and the Oconee River (at Milledgeville).

Before the end of his life, King was even known as a political figure, having served in the post-Civil War Alabama Legislature as a state representative from Russell County

After John Godwin’s death in 1859, King erected a monument over his grave in the old Godwin cemetery in Phenix City that reads: “This stone was placed here by Horace King, in lasting remembrance of the love and gratitude he felt for his lost friend and former master.”

In the 1870s, King moved to LaGrange, Georgia, where he and his sons prospered through the work of their construction firm. King died in 1887 and is buried in LaGrange’s Stonewall Cemetery.

Dr. William H. Green, an authority on the life and work of Horace King, has said of King: “Laborer and legislator, his life was an astonishing symbolic bridge – a bridge not only between states, but between men. Like one of his stately Town lattice bridges, Horace King?s life soars above the murky waters historical limitations, of human bondage and racial prejudice. He did not change the currents of social history, but he did transcend them and stands as a reminder of our common humanity, the potential of human spirit, the power of human respect.”

Today, it is easy enough to cross the Chattahoochee River in order to go from Columbus to Phenix City; it is simply a matter of choosing the bridge that is most convenient for the traveler. However, bridges have not always spanned the Chattahoochee.

In 1832, a contract for construction of the first public bridge over the river, Dillingham Bridge, was given to a South Carolinian named John Godwin (b.1798-1859). When Godwin began building the bridge that same year, he had at his side a talented black man whose name would become one of the most celebrated in architectural history of East Alabama and West Central Georgia: Horace King.

King, a South Carolina native who was born into slavery in 1807, became known as a master builder of bridges and buildings in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. His freedom from slavery was accomplished by Godwin’s petition submitted to the Alabama General Assembly in 1846.

By the 1870s, King had built his famous “lattice bridges” over the Chattahoochee River (at West Point, Columbus, Ft. Gaines), the Flint River (at Albany), and the Oconee River (at Milledgeville).

Before the end of his life, King was even known as a political figure, having served in the post-Civil War Alabama Legislature as a state representative from Russell County

After John Godwin’s death in 1859, King erected a monument over his grave in the old Godwin cemetery in Phenix City that reads: “This stone was placed here by Horace King, in lasting remembrance of the love and gratitude he felt for his lost friend and former master.”

In the 1870s, King moved to LaGrange, Georgia, where he and his sons prospered through the work of their construction firm. King died in 1887 and is buried in LaGrange’s Stonewall Cemetery.

Dr. William H. Green, an authority on the life and work of Horace King, has said of King: “Laborer and legislator, his life was an astonishing symbolic bridge – a bridge not only between states, but between men. Like one of his stately Town lattice bridges, Horace King?s life soars above the murky waters historical limitations, of human bondage and racial prejudice. He did not change the currents of social history, but he did transcend them and stands as a reminder of our common humanity, the potential of human spirit, the power of human respect.”