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Historic Bridges of the U.S.
August 17, 2009 8:05 AM   Subscribe

Historic Bridges of the U.S. This is the most complete database of historic bridges I've seen. The front page is blog style that seems to have an emphasis on preservation, and which links to a database that is actively being updated & expanded. You can search by state or by county, and look at each bridge's individual page, including a wealth of stats, and a high-res photo, when available.

At the bottom of each page, they're actively accepting comments and photo submissions from site users, and using that input to update info on each bridge.
posted by Devils Rancher (31 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Complete, yes. Historic, maybe. They have bridges in there from 1964 that are not particularly special. I think they just sucked in the list of all the bridges in the state that get inspected.
posted by smackfu at 8:12 AM on August 17, 2009


I find it strangely touching that the category for bridges that have collapsed or been demolished or what have you is "Lost". Don't worry, bridgespotters, they're never really lost if you keep them in your hearts.
posted by Copronymus at 8:13 AM on August 17, 2009




I think they just sucked in the list of all the bridges in the state that get inspected.

Actually, no.
"I knew: Somebody needs to document these things before they are lost. If some low-budget history museum can get mentioned in the tourist brochures, then why not a real historic site that is still being used? If people are willing to drive long distances to see a covered bridge, then why not a truss bridge? (It could be argued that a covered bridge is merely a truss bridge with a roof.)

As with most websites, this one started small, with photos of a few dozen bridges. But I quickly learned that I'm not the only one with a passion for history and civil engineering, and now this site features photos and information from dozens of contributors in several states. That's good; it means I'm not as weird as I thought..."
This website is a labor of love.
posted by ericb at 8:20 AM on August 17, 2009


On the subject of bridges, I was sort of astounded to discover that John Wayne's childhood home is just down the road from the famed Bridges of Madison County. I don't know why it was so surprising. I guess it's like when I found out Warren Beatty and Shirley MacLaine are brother and sister, and I was, like, what? Really? Or when I found out Lois from Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey are brother and sister, and I was, like, they're in the same universe?
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:24 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


That's pretty sweet. I've long had in mind a project to photograph all the bridges in my town. The reason being, it's tiny (like 10k tiny), but I think we have every major kind of bridge represented at least once. We even have a suspension bridge and it's from like 18aughtwhatever.
posted by DU at 8:26 AM on August 17, 2009


Their basemap has glaciers the same color as water. Blew the whole thing for me really.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:30 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


And he's only got 3 bridges from my town and none of them look like the suspension bridge. (No photos, so it's hard to say for sure.) Sounds like some updates are in order! (Except I can't find a submission form.)
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on August 17, 2009


This bridge and this bridge are in fact the same bridge.
posted by localroger at 8:39 AM on August 17, 2009


I just found this yesterday afternoon, so I did want to say that anything that looks like self-linking subsequent to this post will be after-the-fact, as I intend to start submitting photos and data.

DU, it looks like you can just email him if they don't have pages for a certain bridge. A GPS unit and a camera seems like all you'd need to get started, but I'd imagine county historical societies might have records of construction dates, contractors, etc. if you want to delve further. (no affiliation, etc. & cetera.)
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:43 AM on August 17, 2009


...I can't find a submission form.

It's here.
posted by ericb at 8:48 AM on August 17, 2009


This is really just a massive aid for people looking to kill themselves.
posted by Patbon at 8:50 AM on August 17, 2009


They just had to blow this one up near me a couple of months ago. The city couldn't afford to fix it and eventually it got so bad that it was in danger of falling on the road below so they had to demo it in a hurry. There are no plans to replace it, people just have to go the long way around.
posted by octothorpe at 8:52 AM on August 17, 2009


I hold my breath whenever I cross this bridge. Every 5-10 years the river gets high enough to lick its bottom.
posted by maggieb at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2009


>Every 5-10 years the river gets high enough to lick its bottom.

That would be the bridge over Tossed Salad Creek? Yeah, it's got to get pretty high to do that.
posted by mosk at 9:41 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Oh yay I love this. Looks like I'll have to take my camera along more when we drive around SW Louisiana. The bridges there are wonderful and there's not so many pictures for that region.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:45 AM on August 17, 2009


Madness! Madness!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:15 AM on August 17, 2009


I love bridges, and I love old bridges even more. What I love best, though, are old bridges that should have no business being still standing, let alone being open to traffic. My favorites include bridges like the Wheeling Suspension Bridge in West Virginia and the Waldo-Hancock Bridge in Maine (recently closed to traffic). My all-time favorite, however, is the Grand Auglaize Swinging Bridge, a suspension bridge built in 1992 in the middle of nowhere, Missouri. Held up by a few rusty wires and having a deck of wooden boards that are free to move around, driving across it is an exercise in bravery and faith in the engineers that designed and maintain it. It's one lane, and due to the way the deck curves up, you can't see across to the other side. If you keep your windows open you'll be able to hear if someone is already crossing it because the freely-moving boards make a terrible racket. Here's a video of me driving across it a few years ago.
posted by zsazsa at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2009 [3 favorites]


Er, built in 1922, not 1992.
posted by zsazsa at 10:49 AM on August 17, 2009


Still digging through photos: Here's one of a train bridge taken when it was 104 years old. Check the AMC Matador in the pic.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:01 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


My grandfather was one of the engineers that worked on this one. There was a big flood in the late '30s and the project was abandoned, but now you can hike out there and bungee jump off of it. My dad and his brothers have done the hike (they didn't do the bungee jumping part) and said it's a pretty rough 10 miles, round trip. Sooner or later I'm going to do it, too.
posted by infinitywaltz at 11:27 AM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


@zsazsa - I don't think I'd walk across that bridge - let alone drive it!
posted by COD at 11:56 AM on August 17, 2009


They left out the most important historical fact about this bridge. It was named after Archibald Butt, military aide to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, who died aboard the Titanic 2 years before it was constructed. It is known locally as the Butt Memorial Bridge and there was a successful campaign to save it from the wrecking ball several years ago during a planned roadway expansion and construction of an overpass over nearby railroad tracks. As someone who has spent several hours on that bridge waiting for trains, I really wish the campaign had failed.
posted by TedW at 12:05 PM on August 17, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic! Best of all there are a dozen or so local bridges that I can submit photos for.

I find it strangely touching that the category for bridges that have collapsed or been demolished or what have you is "Lost".

Actually, that's a pretty standard term in historic preservation.
posted by dhartung at 12:26 PM on August 17, 2009


Wow, they have almost no pictures of the bridges in Austin. There's apparently a historical walking photography thing downtown that I've been interested in trying. If they do it again, I'm going to go and see if they can't take and submit some photos for this site.
posted by immlass at 1:22 PM on August 17, 2009


Oh wow, this is SO cool. I saw this post while I was on campus and didn't have time to reply, but this is nifty! This one is less than a quarter mile from where my fiance grew up, and he remembers diving off its replacement into the lake and having to be careful to avoid the old pilings.
posted by strixus at 1:25 PM on August 17, 2009


And the bridges of Atlanta it lists are very cool. This one was a landmark of my childhood, as was this one. Interesting that they have the latter, but not the Mitchel St, Spring St, or Peachtree St CSX bridges in the same area.
posted by strixus at 1:32 PM on August 17, 2009


My father was an ironworker.
He worked on the Mackinac Bridge.
(also Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Throgs Neck Bridge, Shea Stadium, and the World Trade Center, among others)
Sorry, no derailment intended, I am very proud of what he did.
posted by Drasher at 2:26 PM on August 17, 2009


I'm so glad this is on here.

My friend wrote an essay trying to convince the town to save this bridge back when they were about to replace it with a box culvert. They replaced it anyways. The iron pieces have been sitting in a hayfield since then.
posted by rubah at 6:51 PM on August 17, 2009


"Who here likes a good story about a bridge?"

Me! Me!

I am right now reading David McCullough's The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. About 80 pages in and I'm enjoying it immensely. I haven't enjoyed a book this much since I read his Johnstown Flood last year.
posted by neuron at 9:18 PM on August 17, 2009


This is fantastic! Best of all there are a dozen or so local bridges that I can submit photos for.

You might also want to try looking up those bridges on Wikipedia and seeing if they need pictures there too. I am a little overly proud to have contributed the main picture for the Cold Spring Canyon Arch Bridge in Santa Barbara County.

The site's listings for Santa Barbara are missing my favorite one: the [self-link] Arroyo Hondo bridge, built in 1918. It's obsolete and open to foot traffic! I like being able to inspect an old bridge up close like that.
posted by dreamyshade at 10:15 PM on August 17, 2009


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