This 229-foot W. W. King bridge, built in 1885, replaced an earlier structure that the owner of the original mill, Gabriel Watson, built near the site of the present bridge. One of the occasional "freshets" (floods) that was created by the rise of the South Fork of the Broad River washed the old bridge away.
At the start of the 20th century the mill south of the bridge was purchased by Jefferson Mills in Crawfordville, who built a hydroelectric dam to power the machinery many miles away. Little remains of the original mill, but a good deal remains of the dam, which produced power until the 1950's, when it was no longer economically feasible for Jefferson Mills to generate its own power.
The land sat dormant for 20 years, finally being donated to the state of Georgia that began a restoration effort in 1971. The park opened in 1973 as a camping and recreational park with the centerpiece bridge as a major attraction.
Most people journey to Watson Mill Bridge State Park to see the bridge and enjoy the cool water of the Broad River. You can bring a bathing suit and have a good time all day sliding on the rocks and frolicking in the cool water. What many people dont realize is that more than 1,000 acres comprise this park, most of it forested with abundant flora and fauna. Superintendent Lee Moon has been increasing the amount of hiking trails and mountain bike trails within the park. Currently for hikers there are seven miles of paths including an interpreted trail to the old power generation station, and five miles of easy to moderate mountian bike paths. Horseback riders have 14 miles of designated trails with a separate camping area and stalls, but horse rentals are not available.
Beside the covered bridge, river, and nearby recreation, Watson Mill State Park has a small camping area with RV sites, the mill pond and picnic shelters available for renting.