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Brookport Bridge

Irvin S. Cobb Bridge

Brookport Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 2, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
US-45 (Paducah-Brookport Road) Over Ohio River
Location
Brookport and Paducah: Massac County, Illinois and McCracken County, Kentucky: United States
Structure Type
Metal 24 Panel Rivet-Connected Modified Polygonal Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Pony Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1929 By Builder/Contractor: Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Engineer/Design: Harrington, Howard, and Ash

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
716 Feet (218.24 Meters)
Structure Length
5387 Feet (1641.96 Meters)
Roadway Width
19.7 Feet (6 Meters)
Spans
9 Main Span(s) and 19 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
64990115064

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

This bridge is a very long structure crossing the Ohio River. Like the nearby Metropolis Bridge, the bridge is composed of simple truss spans, with none of the cantilever or continuous spans that were commonly built on the Ohio River in the first half of the 20th Century. The Metropolis Bridge did not use a traditional cantilever truss design because of soil conditions in this area. It is likely that the Brookport Bridge was built as simple spans for similar reasons. In place of cantilever or continuous truss spans, the Metropolis Bridge, completed in 1917, included among its spans, a single span that was 720 feet long, the longest simple truss span in the world when completed. Similarly, this bridge at Brookport, also includes an enormous simple span, measuring 716 feet! To be exact, it measures 716 feet and 3/8 of an inch. While a few feet shorter than the Metropolis Bridge, and built over 10 years later, this span nevertheless appears to be, among historic bridges, one of the longest simple truss spans in existence. It may be one of the longest simple truss spans ever built, at least in the first half of the 20th Century. One of the unusual details of both this bridge and the Metropolis Bridge is that the largest span is at the southern end of the bridge, not in the middle. The navigation channel was located at the south side of the river. However, there was an additional navigation channel in the more traditional middle of the river, and to accommodate this second navigation channel there is a truss span which at 514 feet long is larger than adjacent spans (measuring 396 feet), but not as large as the 716 foot span. From north to south, the bridge includes the following noteworthy spans. Three Warren pony truss bridges, with a sharp bend in the roadway; a Parker through truss; nine polygonal Warren through truss spans which are subdivided; four Warren deck truss spans, followed by a series of short steel stringer spans. For a detailed diagram, click here.

The 716 foot span has some additional unusual details. While the roadway maintains the same narrow 19.7 foot width, the 716 foot span is notably wider (distance between trusses) so on this span there is a gap between the edge of the roadway and the truss lines. The reason for this is presumably for stability reasons. The trusses of the bridge are incredibly deep (tall) due to the span length, and the extra width probably helps keep the bridge from becoming top heavy and tipping over in high winds. Another unusual detail is that toward the southern end of the truss, the roadway grade suddenly angles downward (from level grade to -5% grade) to match the grade of the southern approach spans. The truss was designed to accommodate this, and the bottom chord has a matching change in angle at this point. At the northern end of the bridge, there is a similar change in grade, but it occurs at a pier point, not inside a truss, and the grade change is only to 2.44%.

Visually this is a spectacular bridge. The use of simple spans give the bridge an appearance quite different from the cantilever trusses that exist (or once existed) on the Ohio River. The built-up beams with widespread use of v-lacing and lattice compliment the intricate geometry created by the complex truss configurations. Additional complexity and geometry is found in the extensive sway and portal bracing needed for these large truss spans. The bridge retains good historic integrity, with no major alterations to the truss superstructure noted. The bridge also appears to remain in good condition. It is an unusually narrow two lane bridge, but the posted speed limit is only 25mph. Some people think the bridge is scary to drive over, however as long as you are not texting while driving it is not that big of a deal. That said, evidence of distracted drivers who scraped against bridge or cars is evidence with some shrapnel noted on the bridge deck.

HistoricBridges.org is proud to offer a large photo gallery filled with overview and detail photos including numerous photos taken from on the bridge. A local police officer approached and indicated that it was illegal to walk on the bridge, although no signs forbidding pedestrians are posted, (nor is the road a limited access highway). HistoricBridges.org has not confirmed that there really is a law forbidding pedestrians from using the bridge, but be aware if you walk on this bridge you may be escorted off by police! Fortunately for HistoricBridges.org, this did not happen until after detail and overview photos from on the bridge had been taken!

 

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Brookport Bridge

 
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Original / Full Size Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery offers photos in the highest available resolution and file size in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Overview
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of overview photos that show the bridge as a whole and general areas of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Photo Gallery
Structure Details
Mobile Optimized Photos
A collection of detail photos that document the parts, construction, and condition of the bridge. This gallery features data-friendly, fast-loading photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer. Alternatively, Browse Without Using Viewer
View Video
CarCam: Southbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.
View Video
CarCam: Northbound Crossing
Full Motion Video
Note: The downloadable high quality version of this video (available on the video page) is well worth the download since it offers excellent 1080 HD detail and is vastly more impressive than the compressed streaming video. Streaming video of the bridge. Also includes a higher quality downloadable video for greater clarity or offline viewing.

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