The massive Cincinnati Southern Bridge carries Norfolk Southern Railway (Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific Railway) over the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Ludlow, Kentucky.
The first bridge over the river was completed in 1877 and featured the world’s longest Linville-variant Whipple through truss in the world. There was also a swing span that was to be utilized during periods of high water when there wasn’t enough vertical space for boats to pass under the main span, although it was seldom, if ever, used.
In the early 20th century, it became evident that the Cincinnati Southern Bridge had become outdated. Due to weight limitations, trains had to be disassembled and transported across the river by locomotives weighing no more than 65 tons. Furthermore, the cars were restricted to a maximum gross weight of 115,000 pounds. The river crossing was extensively reconstructed between 1921-22, with the substructure widened and the superstructure erected over the existing trusses.
One notable change of the new bridge versus the old was the replacement of the swing span with a through truss vertical lift span, although it only raised 12 feet to accommodate tall boats. Other through truss spans were replaced with deck plate girders.
The seldom-used lift span was closed permanently in 1976, with the infrastructure later dismantled.