Monday, September 2, 2013

Abandoned bridges on River Road, Louisville, Kentucky

Tracing the Ohio River along the northern boundary of Jefferson County, Kentucky, River Road has a large number of abandoned and bypassed bridges.  Today we will explore a few, starting with this vintage stone structure crossing Goose Creek.

Constructed of arched stone, this bridge is older than anyone knows.  Its replacement, built slightly upstream, dates to 1935.  Based on its construction and location, the best available guess of it's build date is 1830 or so.  Simply put, it predates nearly everything in the area.  And, as seen above, boats are occasionally stored on it.  (Photo from Bing Maps.)

Another side angle shot of the bridge.
The new bridge and the old bridge actually meet on the western side.  Despite being abandoned for nearly 80 years, this bridge is actually in better shape than its newer neighbor.  Note the tree growing on the far end of the bridge.  Yes, its growing on the bridge.
Another shot of the bridge's roadway.  Despite its age, the roadway is quite large, nearly two modern lanes in width. 

If you drive further west on river road, taking a slight turn to the right, these gates become visible. What is beyond them you ask?
Another abandoned bridge, of course!  This is the old River Road Bridge crossing Beargrass Creek.
The bottom span in the photo, our subject bridge appears to date from the 1930s.  The modern replacement is the middle bridge, while a railroad bridge is at the top of this shot.  (Bing Map Photo)
Looking south, the new span is visible in the background.
A common sight in Louisville, this sign warns against being near the water during bouts of heavy rain.  In some parts of Louisville, the septic and storm drains are one in the same.  Apparently, sewage overflows into the river once the drains systems have been overwhelmed by heavy water flows.
A side shot of the bridge.  What is that hiding underneath the far end?..

Oh, its an even older bridge abutment.  Predating the 1930's span, this cut stone abutment held a much older bridge, located at the same site at this one.  A common event, bridge engineers usually pick the same spots for their spans.  Rarely though do you see spans built OVER one another.
Built from hand dress and cut stone, this abutment is fairly old.  
A comment below shed some light on this final bridge, and with a little bit of searching, pictures turned up.  While not clearly identified in the UL archives, there are some clues that this is it...

Overall shot of the bridge, sitting on cut stone abutments.  This photo set dates from 1933, shortly before the current bridge looks to have been built, so this makes sense so far.

This photo shows the railroad bridge in the background, one that has since been replaced with a more modern structure.  The distance seems right, but there is also a strange hole in the abutment, visible as a black square in the photo.

And this photo too shows that large opening in the abutment.  I haven't seen another bridge with an opening like this, so I have to conclude that this is the bridge in question.  Its an older style, and in these photos looks to be in good shape.  Thank you for your time.  You never know the history that lies just under you feet...or your tires....

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  1. Very cool entry. I love old bridges. :)

    1. Glad you enjoy. We have a pile of old bridge posts on deck. They are staggered, so as to no overwhelm the casual reader...

  2. What you are doing is praiseworthy. Keep up the good work. I visit your website very often.

  3. I see you have spotted the old cut stones under the beargrass creek river road bridge. That is an old support for the old iron bridge and often call the cut off bridge. That part of the creek was cut straight to the river from it's former route in about 1855. The natural creek bed turned just past the pump station and flowed west just below Quincy st. and west until about third and river. University of Louisville photo archives dept has photos.

    1. Superb comment. Thanks for this info. I believe I found the correct photos and updated the post.

  4. Yes I visit the post very often Uof L also has photos of the Brownsboro rd Iron bridge and the Frankfort Ave. arched stone date of that photo 1935. Also a bridge was located behind the brewery on Story ave at Webster that was smaller iron type and narrow in width. You do a great job posting the photos.