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Old Railroad Bridge - Sheffield, AL
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Lat34North
N 34° 46.786 W 087° 40.008
16S E 438990 N 3848823
Quick Description: This marker is located on Ashe Blvd., Sheffield, AL, at the Tennessee River. Parking is available near the “Old Railway Bed” marker at N 34° 46.764 W 087° 40.032. There is a paved path to the lower section of the bridge and this marker.
Location: Alabama, United States
Date Posted: 7/5/2013 6:44:10 PM
Waymark Code: WMHFKY
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Thorny1
Views: 3

Long Description:
The marker reads:

Side 1
In 1832, the Alabama legislature authorized the Florence Bridge Company to construct this bridge across the Tennessee River. In 1840, it opened as a toll bridge. Twice damaged by storms, it was reopened in 1858 as a double-decked bridge by the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. Additional piers were added to support the large wooden superstructure with trains using the upper deck while the lower deck served as a toll bridge. In April 1862, the Confederate army burned the bridge. Later in the Civil War, the piers were used to assist in ferry crossings and to anchor a pontoon bridge built by Gen. John B. Hood’s Confederate Army of Tennessee in November 1864. After the war, both decks of the bridge were rebuilt and returned to service in 1870.

Side 2
In 1892, an engine and five cars crashed through both decks into the river. The superstructure was replaced with steel spans which are still visible. A turn span crossed the navigation channel until 1962 when a lift span was installed and used until 1992. Trains used the upper deck until 1988, as did streetcars from 1904 to 1933. The lower deck served as a toll bridge until O’Neal Bridge opened in 1939. In 1993, the Norfolk-Southern Railroad Company donated the bridge to the Old Railroad Bridge Company. The 1560-foot long lower deck was restored to serve as a walking trail. With the original piers a part of the present structure, it is the oldest river bridge in Alabama.

Sponsored by the Old Railroad Bridge Company and Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation 2010
Marker Name: Old Railroad Bridge

Marker Type: Urban

Addtional Information::
The original bridge was a covered bridge across the Tennessee River. In 1858, the bridge was converted to a wooden double decker bridge. Trains used the upper level while horses, wagons and pedestrians used the lower level. Eventual the wooded structure failed while a train was crossing the river. The old wooden bridge was replaced by a steel structure. The bridge was still in use after the introduction of the automobile. Today you can walk on the lower bridge for a great view of the Tennessee River.


Date Dedicated / Placed: 2010

Marker Number: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please post a photo of you OR your GPS at the marker location. Also if you know of any additional links not already mentioned about this bit of Alabama history please include that in your log.
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Recent Visits/Logs:
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Lat34North visited Old Railroad Bridge - Sheffield, AL 7/4/2013 Lat34North visited it