The Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge is a railroad bridge connecting Louisville, Kentucky, and New Albany, Indiana. It is notable for its two automobile lanes flanking the railroad tracks and for being the first crossing for wagons over the Ohio River in the region.
The Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge was constructed between 1883-86 by the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge Company 2 at the cost of $1 million. 3 It featured a single standard-gauge rail line and room for two wagon lanes. 1 It was the first fixed crossing of the Ohio River for wagons between Louisville and southern Indiana. 1
The notion of a bridge between Louisville and New Albany came about after the completion of the Louisville Bridge Company’s Fourteenth Street Bridge at Ohio River Falls which connected Louisville and Jeffersonville. 3 That crossing, completed in 1870, had vested interests from both the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) and the Pennsylvania Railroad. Additionally, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad (B&O) and the Monon (LNAC) had trackage rights on the bridge.
Citing the high tariffs to utilize the Fourteenth Street Bridge via trackage rights, and the desire to have a fixed wagon crossing of the Ohio River to replace a ferry, J.F. Gephart made motions to have a second bridge over the river constructed. 3 Gephart worked with W. S. Culbertson who was able to secure promises from the B&O, Monon, and the Southern that it would utilize a new bridge between Lousiville and New Albany if completed. Construction of the bridge was authorized by the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the state of Indiana in 1880, and the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge Company was formed.
Upon the completion of the bridge in 1886, the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad (K&I) operated the Daisy Line. 1 2 3 The early commuter service was nicknamed for its trademark yellow cars. The line was electrified in 1893 and was the first steam to electric conversion in the United States. Passengers boarded at elevated stations at 1st, 4th, and 7th Streets in Louisville. The passenger service proved to be extremely popular and offered a convenient 15-minute service between 6 am and midnight. By 1906, the service was handling 3,425 passengers per day or 1.25 million passengers per year.
In 1893, the B&O requested that the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge Company replace wooden approach trestles with stronger iron. 3 The project cost significantly more to complete and forced the Company into receivership. 1 3 The Youngstown Bridge Company, which completed the trestle work, filed suit. In the end, the bridges, approaches, and associated land were sold to pay the liens. The B&O, Monon, and Southern all bid on the Company in 1899 and purchased it in 1900 for $700,000. It renamed the bridge company to the Kentucky & Indiana Bridge & Railroad Company.
In 1901, the Company hired William M. Mitchell to serve as Chief Engineer and General Manager who reported that the Ohio River bridge was obsolete because of its weight restrictions that required long trains to be broken up into multiple segments. 3 Mitchell recommended that a new bridge be constructed so that modern steam engines could safely run over the bridge with full loads.
In late 1907, the Company sold its commuter rolling stock and stations to the Louisville & Northern Railway & Light Company and exited the commuter rail business. 1 In 1908, the elevated commuter line and stations were abandoned in favor of a direct connection to the streetcar which boosted business, leading to the river crossing handling 96 streetcars per day and 1.8 million passengers per year. 3 Reflecting its more streamlined operations, the company’s name was renamed the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad Company in 1910.
Work to rebuild the river bridge to accommodate heavier trains, dual tracks, and automobiles began in June 1910 and was completed in November 1912 at the cost of $2 million. 3 4 The Foster-Creighton-Gould Company of Nashville served as the substructure contractor while the American Bridge Company of New York served as the superstructure contractor. 4
The new bridge featured a swing span at its northern end which allowed the bridge to rotate for the passage of tall ships in high water. 3 It was opened only four times: twice for testing in 1913 and 1915, for the passage of the Tarascon on January 18, 1916, and for the Australian convict ship Success on March 28, 1920. In 1948, the Company refused to open the bridge for the Gordon & Green, citing inconvenience and the costs of cutting power and communication lines on the bridge. The K&I and the Louisville Gas and Electric Company later paid damages to the ship’s owner.
The last streetcar operated across the K&I Bridge in 1948. 3 In 1952, the creosoted wood block roadway deck was replaced with steel grating. 4 In November 1955, the Company successfully requested permission to permanently disable the swing span from the Army Corps of Engineers, citing inconveniences of having to sever power and communication lines and the lack of usage. 3
It was not until the opening of the Second Street Municipal Bridge in 1929 that Louisville had a second automobile crossing over the Ohio River. 3 The opening of the new bridge did not affect the Company’s revenues, although the opening of the Sherman Minton Bridge downstream in 1969 drastically affected the Company’s revenues. Automobile traffic on the Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Bridge dropped from 75,000 to 17,000 vehicles per year. The bridge, which was tolled, went to an honor system of collection and eliminated its toll collector positions in an attempt to save money.
In 1979, an overweight dump truck caused a section of the northbound automobile lane to sag. 3 The bridge operators promised a quick fix to reopen the roadway, but the lanes were never reopened to public travel.
- State: Indiana, Kentucky
- Route: Norfolk Southern Railway
- Type: Baltimore Through Truss, Pennsylvania Through Truss
- Status: Active - Railroad
- Total Length: 2,713 feet
- Main Span Length: 625 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- Kleber, John E. “Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad.” The encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. p. 464.
- Kleber, John E. “Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad.” The encyclopedia of Louisville. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2001. p. 744.
- Hartline, John E. “Kentucky & Indiana Terminal Railroad.” Trainsweb.