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Great Falls Road Bridge

Collins River Bridge

Great Falls Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 10, 2014

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Great Falls Road (TN-287), Over Collins River
Rural: Warren County, Tennessee: United States
Structure Type
Metal 13 Panel Pin-Connected Parker Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 10 Panel Rivet-Connected Parker Through Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1889 By Builder/Contractor: Mount Vernon Bridge Company of Mount Vernon, Ohio and Nashville Bridge Company of Nashville, Tennessee and Engineer/Design: Eugene F. Falconnet
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
246.0 Feet (75 Meters)
Structure Length
655.0 Feet (199.6 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 6 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number

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The bridge seen at this location was erected by the Nashville Bridge Company in 1924. However, the largest span of this bridge dates to 1889, having been reused from a four span bridge in Nashville over the Cumberland River called the Hyde's Ferry Bridge or Bordeaux Bridge. One of the other spans was also reused, but was destroyed in 2010 by a major regional flood. This bridge was over the South Harpeth River on Old Harding Road. The 1889 span is individually rare and significant as an extremely unusual variety of Parker truss whose top chord has a very strongly defined elliptical arch shape. With the destruction of the other span in 2010, this is the only surviving span from the Hyde's Ferry Bridge, and its design may be unique among surviving truss bridges in Tennessee and beyond.

The bridge over the Collins River as seen today is configured from west to east as follows: 2 steel stringer spans, a five panel Warren pony truss, a 13 panel 1889 Pin-connected Parker through truss span, a 10 panel rivet-connected Parker through truss, a five panel Warren pony truss, and a steel stringer span. Presumably all spans except the pin-connected Parker truss date to 1924. The 1924 truss spans are historically significant as representative examples of riveted truss spans built by an in-state bridge builder.

This bridge has been bypassed by a new bridge and abandoned. It would be nice to see this bridge restored, especially given that the fate of the other 1889 Hyde's Ferry was abandonmenent and subsequent destruction by flooding.

No historical photos of the Hyde's Ferry Bridge could be located. The Tennessee Historic Bridge Inventory indicates that the bridge was designed by Eugene F. Falconnet and built from 1887-1889 by the Mt. Vernon Bridge Company of Mt. Vernon, Ohio. Information about this man is offered below. The information indicates that Falconnet died in 1888 so it appears he never saw the completion of the bridge he designed.

Information From Proceedings of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Volumes 14-16, 1888 About Eugene F. Falconnet

Died October 14th, 1887.

Major E. F. Falconnet was born in the castle of Bremgarten, on the River Arr, near the City of Berne, Switzerland, in the year 1833. The Falconnets, though of noble ancestry and connections, had lost their estates during the wars of Napoleon and the succeeding revolutions. Major Falconnet acquired his education alternately at Zurich and Geneva, taking his final degree when he was quite a lad. He came to the United States with his father in 1850. After spending some time in the Northern States, Major Falconnet went on a visit to Mexico with his uncle, Colonel F. Falconnet. Returning to the United States, he went to Tennessee where, in 1852, he became Assistant Engineer of the Mobile and Ohio Railroad. From 1855 to 1856 he was Resident and Division Engineer on the Mississippi Central and Tennessee Railroad; 1856-57 Principal Assistant Engineer on the South Western Railroad of Tennessee, with headquarters at McMinnville, Tenn.; 1858, Chief Engineer Wills Valley Railroad; 1859-61, Chief Engineer Nashville and North Western Railroad.

In 1860 Mr. Falconnet was appointed Sergeant-Major of the Rock City Guards. In 1861 he became a member of Rutledge Battery. This battery covered the retreat from Shiloh, Major Falconnet firing the last gun which was fired by confederates. As an officer of artillery and commander of cavalry, he served in the confederate army, during the late war, with distinction.

At the close of the war Major Falconnet resumed his professional work and was connected with the Tennessee and Pacific and the South Western Railroads, as Chief Engineer, from 1866 to 1870; afterwards Resident Engineer of Sparta Branch, Memphis and Charleston Railroad; for several years, afterward Chief Engineer, Cumberland and Ohio Railroad, from 1873-76; from 1877-79 President of Nashville and Tuscaloosa Railroad; in 1879 appointed Chief Engineer of the Owensboro and Nashville Railroad, and from that time until the date of his death prominently connected with the opening up and extension of very many of the Southern railroads, as well as many other engineering works in the Southern States.

In 1880 Major Falconnet became very much interested in aerial navigation. He made this subject a study for seven years, taking out patents on his inventions in the United States, England, Germany and France, and was preparing to build a model of his air ship at the time of his death.

Major Falconnet became a Member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, June 3rd, 1874. Toward the close of the war he married Miss Burtwell, of Florence, Ala., who, with several children, survives him.

Major Falconnet was an able, painstaking and expert engineer; a man of rare gifts and of unassuming modesty; brusque in his business dealings, in personal intercourse a master of the lighter graces of society and of most charming manners. One of his most intimate personal acquaintances writes of him: "Yet variable and adventurous, and often stormy as his life has been, he was born to gentler conditions, and, except for his stern sense of duty, and an obstinate, unsoliciting modesty, his career might have been very much more brilliant, though it could not have been more honorable." He died at Nashville, Tenn., of malarial fever, greatly regretted by his widow and children, and a wide circle of friends and acquaintances.


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