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Old Mulberry Bridge

Old Mulberry Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 10, 2014

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Quarter Road (Private) Over Elk River
Rural: Lincoln County, Tennessee: United States
Structure Type
Metal 10 Panel Pin-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal 4 Panel Rivet-Connected Pratt Bedstead Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1901 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
170 Feet (51.8 Meters)
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s) and 4 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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This bridge has significance on multiple levels. It was built in 1901 by the American Bridge Company, which had formed from purchase and consolidation of numerous companies only a year earlier. The company was the most prolific bridge company of the 20th Century. This early example of the important company's work is notable. The main pin-connected Pennsylvania through truss span is traditionally composed, but significant as an example of an uncommon bridge type. The most significant aspect of this bridge however is the unique pony truss approach spans, one at each end of the Pennsylvania truss span. These spans would be best described as half-bedstead truss spans. The end of each pony truss span that is closest to the Pennsylvania truss has an inclined end post and bears on the main span pier. The far ends of the pony truss span in contrast terminate in a vertical end post that extends below the deck to form a steel bent, which means it is a bedstead. It is unclear why this unusual design was chosen. Because of the bedstead end of the trusses, a single steel stringer span was needed to connect the pony truss to the abutments of the bridge. To add to how unusual this bridge is, the two half-bedstead spans are not the same. The southern one is four panels and the northern one is only three panels. Moreover, the northern half-bedstead span has v-lacing on top of the end post and top chord instead of cover plate, which is what is found on the southern half-bedstead span.

Bedstead truss bridges of any kind are extremely rare. The unusual half-bedstead truss spans of this bridge may be the last of their kind, but even if they weren't they still rank among the most unusual spans around.

This bridge originally a public bridge but was abandoned in the 1970s. Sometime later, the road became the property of Frito Lay (the potato chip company). They have since redecked the bridge and make use of it to some extent.

The Pennsylvania truss span suffers from severe section loss at the lower portions of the vertical members and on the floor beams. It is in need of restoration. The bedstead truss spans are in much better condition.

This bridge is on property owned by Frito Lay. Approach from the south and ask permission to visit the bridge from someone at the buildings that come up on the left.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Old Mulberry Bridge

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Maps and Links: Old Mulberry Bridge

This bridge is on property owned by Frito Lay. Approach from the south and ask permission to visit the bridge from someone at the buildings that come up on the left.

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