Monday, April 19, 2010

Old Railroad Bridge

When we were up in Tuscumbia and Florence, we came upon the Tennessee River that divides the towns.  It is crossed by a 1930’s bridge that is the main crossing connecting the towns.  I understand that at one time it was a toll bridge, but that tolls were suspended in the early 1950’s.

But that was not what attracted us.  Several hundred yards up river was a much older structure that seemed to not be connected to anything.  It had railroad tracks on top, and a lower deck that seemed to be wooden.  It went out into the middle of the river, and just abruptly stopped.

So we drove around and found that the South end of the bridge did connect to land, but was only  accessible by foot thru a park.  So we parked and walked.  The lower deck of the bridge is a foot bridge, that has been redecked with wooden planks and rails.


Although we didn’t walk all the way out, it goes about a half a mile and comes to an end.  You can see the modern bridge to the top left.  This is called Pickwick Lake, and is the result of the dammed up Tennessee River.  To the East is the Wilson Dam and lock.  I walked out farther and took its picture.


It was almost dusk, and I took these pictures with the cell phone, as it was the only camera I had with me. 

So I had to look all this up on the internet, and found out that the bridge is called the old railroad bridge, and was the only way that this area was connected together for almost 100 years.  The top deck was the railroad that included the city interurban as well as the main rail route from North to South.  The lower deck was for wagons and people and later cars, until the dam was built in 1925.

The dam was started before WWI but was halted several times due to the war and economic times.  Political funding also played a big part, with eventually the creation of the TVA, Tennessee Valley Authority.

I do think the interesting part is that it dates back to 1832. I had no idea that I was standing on something that old.  The steel structure appears to still be basically sound, but very rusty to the eye.  The railroad deck is deteriorated, but the rails are still in place.  The steel structure seemed very light to handle the weight of a railroad.  I looked at it and wondered what kind of a train it would support.

Well, I didn’t understand that at the time it was built, it only needed to support an 1830’s steam engine and a few cars.  I’m sure that most of the supplies that went into building the towns on both sides of the river crossed this old bridge.

Before the bridge was built, there were ferries that crossed the river and they were ran by George Colbert.  Today the county is named Colbert County in his honor.

This area is steeped in history from before  and during the civil war.  I have only scratched the surface in my short study.

Tomorrow we need to be back in front of door 20 at 7 AM, so perhaps this study of the area must come to an end for now.

Retired Rod


  1. Nice old bridge - and great pics. Like you say, a lot of history in that area, would love to visit it sometime!

  2. Yes, I agree with Rick these pictures are looking awesome I really impressed after read its history the bridge is 1,580 feet lengthy and 14 feet tall. It offers a gorgeous view of Pickwick Lake and the Tennessee River. Thanks for sharing this amazing topic.


Anonymous comments had to be eliminated.... For the most part this has removed unwanted responses.. If you can't post your comments, please email me and we will make other arrangements...