High Bridge of Kentucky
High Bridge, viewed from Jessamine County
|Locale||Jessamine & Mercer Counties, Kentucky, United States|
|Total length||1,125 feet (343 m)|
|Height||275 feet (84 m) (or 308 ft.)|
|Designer||Charles Shaler Smith (1876)
Gustav Lindenthal (1911)
High Bridge is a railroad bridge crossing the Kentucky River Palisades, connecting Jessamine and Mercer counties, Kentucky. Constructed in 1876, it is the first cantilever bridge in the United States. It has a three-span continuous under-deck truss used by Norfolk Southern Railway to carry trains between Lexington and Danville. It has been designated as a National Civil Engineering Landmark.
A bridge was begun in the 1850s for the Lexington and Danville Railroad. Designed by John A. Roebling (who designed the Brooklyn Bridge) as a suspension bridge supported by stone towers, it was not completed. The towers for the suspension cables were built and portions remained until 1929.
The bridge was redesigned of cantilever design and opened in 1877 on the Cincinnati Southern Railway. It was 275 feet (84 m) tall (According to the bronze plaque beside it, it is 308 ft.) and 1,125 feet (343 m) long: the tallest bridge above a navigable waterway in North America and the tallest railroad bridge in the world until the early 20th century. With a three-span continuous under-deck truss, it was designed by Charles Shaler Smith and was the first cantilever bridge in the United States. In 1879 President Hayes and Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman attended the dedication.
The current bridge, designed by Gustav Lindenthal, was built around the existing structure in 1911 and expanded to two tracks in 1929.
In 2005 the state and county jointly reopened a park near the bridge (which had been closed since the mid 1960s) at the top of the palisades above the river. It included a restored open air dance pavilion, first used in the 19th century; as well as a new playground, picnic area, and viewing platform that overlooks the bridge and river's edge from the top of the palisades.
- Griggs, Francis (2002). "Kentucky River High Bridge". Journal of Bridge Engineering. 7 (2): 73–84. doi:10.1061/(ASCE)1084-0702(2002)7:2(73).
- Rennick, Robert M. (1987). Kentucky Place Names. University Press of Kentucky. p. 139. Retrieved 2013-04-28.
- "Engineering Timelines - The Forth Rail Bridge - The Cantilever Principle". Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
- "High Bridge". University of Kentucky. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
- Media related to High Bridge of Kentucky at Wikimedia Commons
- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) No. KY-37, "High Bridge"
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