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High Bridge

High Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Dave Michaels

Bridge Documented: November 28, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Norfolk Southern, Cincinnati Southern) Over Kentucky River
Rural: Jessamine County, Kentucky and Mercer County, Kentucky: United States
Structure Type
Metal Continuous 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Baltimore Deck Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1911 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York and Engineer/Design: Gustav Lindenthal

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
353 Feet (107.6 Meters)
Structure Length
1,173 Feet (357.5 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

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About This Bridge

This bridge is an extremely massive and tall deck truss. The bridge was designed by famous bridge engineer Gustav Lindenthal and completed in 1911. The bridge has been incorrectly reported in numerous sources as a cantilever truss built in 1877. The bridge built in 1911 is what is seen today and it is a complete replacement (both superstructure and steel bents)  for the bridge built in 1877. The bridge was carefully designed and constructed around the 1877 bridge so that the replacement bridge could occupy the same footprint, but not interrupt rail traffic during construction. The level of the railroad tracks was also raised slightly in the 1911 bridge. This bridge is significant for its association with noted engineer Gustav Lindenthal and for its unusual method of construction. A diagram of the bridge as well as two photos showing the bridge's construction are shown below.

The First (Failed) Attempt At A Bridge

The first attempt to build a bridge at this crossing was made in 1854, when famous suspension bridge engineer John Roebling began the construction of a suspension bridge here. He completed the stone towers, but in 1857 the project was abandoned due to the Panic of 1857. When a different bridge, a cantilever truss bridge, was completed here in 1877, the stone towers remained. Even when the current bridge replaced the 1877 bridge, these towers still remained standing. It was only in 1929 when these towers were demolished so that the railroad line could be redesigned to accommodate a double track configuration.

The First Completed Bridge


The first noteworthy modern cantilever bridge in North America, was C. Shaler Smith's Kentucky River Bridge for the Cincinnati Southern Railway built in 1877. This was the world's longest cantilever at the time and was also claimed to be the tallest bridge constructed at the time. It was an unusual structure, and did not have a traditional cantilever design. In both appearance and design, it was essentially a continuous deck truss bridge with hinges, which made the bridge function as a cantilever truss with no suspended span. The design appears to have been chosen mainly to allow for better expansion/contraction of the bridge under load and temperature. This bridge was replaced by the current 1911 bridge.




Photo Galleries and Videos: High Bridge

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