Big Sandy Junction Bridge

Big Sandy Junction Bridge

The Big Sandy Junction Bridge carries CSX Railroad over the Big Sandy River between Catlettsburg, Kentucky and Kenova, West Virginia near the Big Sandy Junction.

The first through train of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad (C&O) operated between Richmond, Virginia and Huntington, West Virginia on January 29, 1873. 3 There were no connections with western railroads at Huntington, making the C&O essentially a branch line extending from Richmond. The company acquired full control of the Elizabethtown, Lexington & Big Sandy Railroad (EL&BS), which was attempting to construct a railroad between Lexington, Kentucky and the Big Sandy River near Catlettsburg, opposite of Kenova, West Virginia. The EL&BS went as far as to construct piers for a railroad crossing of the Big Sandy but the superstructure was never completed. 4

After the EL&BS was acquired by the C&O, the line was finished between Lexington and Ashland in December 1881. At Ashland, the railroad connected with the C&O and crossed over a completed Big Sandy River bridge into West Virginia. 2

In an effort to provide service with heavier steam locomotives and freight weights, the Big Sandy River bridge was reconstructed beginning in 1943, when the main spans over the river were replaced with Warren through truss spans fabricated by the Virginia Bridge & Iron Company of Roanoke, Virginia. The approach deck plate girder spans were built in 1951 by the American Bridge Company. 1


  • State: Kentucky, West Virginia
  • Route: CSX
  • Type: Plate Girder, Warren through truss
  • Status: Active - Railroad
  • Total Length: 2,465 feet
  • Main Span Length: 225 feet


  1. Holth, Nathan. “Big Sandy Junction Railroad Bridge.” Historic Bridges, 7 Jun. 2014.
  2. “Chesapeake & Ohio Railway.” The Railroads of Kentucky During the 1940s & 1950s, by Charles H. Bogart,, 2018, p. 17.
  3. Coleman, Christopher D. “W&H MAIN YARDS: Guide to Appalachian Coal Hauling Railroads.” Webville and Hypertext Railroad Company, 2004.
  4. “Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Newsletter.” Chesapeake and Ohio Historical Newsletter, 1975, p. 8.

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