Tebbs Bend Bridge

The Tebbs Bend Bridge carried Tebbs Bend Road over the Green River in Taylor County, Kentucky.

The bridge is located along the former Campbellsville, Muldraugh’s Hill and Columbia Turnpike and was the second iteration over the Green River. The first, a covered crossing, was burned by Confederate General John Hunt Morgan on January 1, 1863 during the Civil War.1 2

The 25th Michigan, was assigned to defend the Green River crossing.1 The 8th Michigan and the 79th New York Highlanders were ordered to the bridge from Lebanon on April 26 and 27, 1863 to not only defend the site but to assist in rebuilding the crossing. The troops had to ford the river and set up camp on the bluff above the river.

Rebuilding efforts began on May 1 and the 8th Michigan spent a month felling timbers and cutting stones for new abutments.1 The 79th New York was at the site for a brief time when they were ordered away on a scouting mission to Jamestown and the Cumberland River on May 11. By May 21, a temporary, uncovered bridge had been completed. It was crude, with a floor made of split logs. Work on a more permanent covered structure began May 23.

On June 5, the 8th Michigan was ordered to return to Lebanon where they boarded a train to Cairo, Illinois where the regiment was placed on a steamer south to Vicksburg, Mississippi.1 On special orders from General Boyle, 8th Michigan Lt. Michael Hogan, an experienced bridge builder with the Milwaukee Railroad, and 42 to 44 men, stayed behind to complete the covered bridge. Some civilians were hired to assist.

The new covered bridge was completed by the fall.2

On January 1, 1907 at 4:30 a.m., John Stone, a driver for J.B. Barbee’s mail wagon, approached the covered crossing only to discover the bridge engulfed in flames.3 The bridge’s owner, the Campbellsville, Muldraugh’s Hill & Columbia Turnpike Company, announced plans to transport mail, passengers and express over the river via canoe until a ferry could be fashioned. The Turnpike had raised the price of traveling between Columbia and Campbellsville to compensate for the erection of a new bridge and on January 12, the company announced that it would build a steel structure over the Green River.

A contract was let to the Vincennes Bridge Company of Vincennes, Indiana in February.3 The Turnpike offered an extra $100 if the new span could be completed by March 31. By the middle of the month, false work for the bridge had been completed and steel, weighing over 36 tons, had been shipped towards the bridge site. The new nine-panel Pratt through truss was completed on March 31, with James E. Rice of Romine the first person to cross the new bridge.

On August 20, 2014, Tebbs Bend Bridge was condemned by the state of Kentucky after it failed inspections.5 Plans were made shortly after to preserve the bridge structure and reuse it as a pedestrian bridge at the adjoining Tebbs Bend Nature and Recreation Area. As part of the erection of the new bridge, the circa 1907 Tebbs Bend Bridge was lifted from its piers and set in the river on April 17, 2015.4 It was then drug up from the bank and transported to the adjoining Tebbs Bend Nature and Recreation Area.