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Nashville Railroad Bridge

Nashville Railroad Bridge

The Nashville Railroad Bridge is a movable bridge with a main swing span over the Cumberland River in Nashville, Tennessee.


Work on the first iteration of a railroad bridge across the Cumberland River began by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N) in 1857. The new crossing was nearly completed in 1858 but work was halted for unspecified reasons. 3 Construction resumed in 1859 and the new bridge was completed at the cost of $200,000 and opened on October 27, 1859. 1 The 700-foot McCallum through truss included the main swing span and three auxiliary spans were jointly utilized by the L&N and the Edgefield & Kentucky Railroad (E&K). The two center draw spans were the largest of their type in the world.

In 1862, Nashville was taken by Union troops during the American Civil War. 3 As the Confederate soldiers retreated from Nashville in February, they set fire to the railroad bridge. 1 3

The crossing was hastily repaired and served the L&N and the E&K until 1867 at which point a new bridge was erected on the same piers as the old bridge. 3 The wood trusses were removed and replaced with Fink iron trusses at the cost of $33,000. 1 3 Albert Fink, the inventor of the truss design, was the General Superintendent of the L&N and oversaw the construction of the bridge. 3

Heavier train loads necessitated the construction of a new steel truss bridge that would include two fixed spans and one swing span with two overlapping tracks. 3 Although one train could be on the bridge at a time, traffic could move through more quickly. Work progressed in phases which included reinforcing the piers with granite and erecting a new superstructure by the Pennsylvania Steel Company. Overseen by J.L. Armstrong, the upgrade cost $70,000. 1 3

Work on a new, more substantial bridge began on June 10, 1931, which included the erection of a Camelback through truss swing span and two Camelback through truss approach spans.



  • State: Tennessee
  • Route: CSX
  • Type: Swing Truss, Camelback Through Truss
  • Status: Active - Railroad
  • Spans:


  1. Herr, Kincaid A. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad, 1860-1963. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1964. 368-369. Print.
  2. “Drawbridge Operation Regulation; Cumberland River, Nashville, TN.” Federal Register 73.200 (2008): 60954-55. U.S. Government Printing Office. Web. 22 Sept. 2014. Article.
  3. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Bridge.” Nashville History, 14 Aug. 2016.

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