Blue Heron Bridge

    Blue Heron Bridge

    The Blue Heron Bridge carried coal mine cars across the Big South Fork Cumberland River in the coal camp community of Blue Heron, Kentucky.

    Blue Heron, also known as Mine No. 18, was opened by the Stearns Coal & Lumber Company in 1937. 1 It included the construction of a cantilever rivet-connected Baltimore deck truss over the Big South Fork Cumberland River to transport loaded coal mine cars to the tipple. Blue Hero operated until December 1962 when operations were no longer profitable.

    The town was abandoned, and the buildings were either removed or collapsed. No original buildings were standing when the community was “re-created” in 1989 as an outdoor museum with ghost structures built on the approximate site of the original buildings by the National Park Service. 2 The bridge was renovated for use by pedestrians.


    • State: Kentucky
    • Route: Stearns Coal & Lumber Company
    • Type: Baltimore deck truss
    • Status: Active - Pedestrian
    • Total Length: 676 feet
    • Main Span Length: 244 feet
    • Deck Width: 7 feet


    1. Blue Heron.” Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area, 11 Oct. 2019.
    2. Finegan, Chance. “Park History: Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.” National Parks Traveler, 16 Sept. 2008.

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