Friday, June 15, 2007

The Railroad Bridge at High Bridge Kentucky Part 1

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My last blog covered the Dancing Pavilion at High Bridge Kentucky but that was putting the cart before the horse. Early in the 1850s, the Lexington & Danville Railroad needed a bridge on the route from Cincinnati to Chattanooga to cross the Kentucky River south of the point where the Dix River merged with the Kentucky River. John Roebling was retained for the project and a suspenision bridge, similar to the one he was then building over the Niagara river, was designed with huge towers on each side of the river gorge. The stone towers and anchorage were completed and many materials were delivered but railroad ran out of money and the Civil War began. Roebling went on to build the Brooklyn Bridge.
After the war, the Cincinnati & Southern Railroad took on the project and hired Charles Shaler Smith and his Baltimore Bridge Company but his design was a cantilever bridge which used the towers from the Roebling design. Completed in 1877, it was the first cantilever bridge in North America AND the highest AND longest cantilever bridge in the world at 286 feet tall and 1138 feet long. Almost instant fame followed and with reliable rail transportation from the big cities of Cincinnati Ohio and Lexington Kentucky, tourists came to High Bridge to see the world record bridge. A Park was built, which included the dance pavilion highlighted in my last blog, and famous people including William Jennings Bryan and Billy Sunday spoke there.
But wait, there is much more history here and I will continue the story in my next blog. This postcard is available in my Kentucky listings and thousands more United States views are available on my website at Moody's Postcards.

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