Sciotoville Railroad Bridge

Sciotoville Railroad Bridge

The mammoth Sciotoville Railroad Bridge carries CSX over the Ohio River between Sciotoville, Ohio and Limeville, Kentucky. It remained the longest continuous truss bridge in the world until 1935.


The Sciotoville Railroad Bridge was designed by two famous American Civil Engineers, Gustav Lindenthal, D.Sc., the Consulting Engineer, and David Barnard Steinman, D.Sc., the designer and stress analyst. 1 2 6 R.T. Robinson was the resident engineer for the consulting engineer, and A. Toohey was the superintendent in charge of erection for the contractor. 6

The crossing was planned to be a two-span continuous truss, an unusual design of the time. 3 Each span was planned to be 775-feet in length as the War Department required a minimum of 750-feet to accommodate the largest of river vessels. 8 Additionally, the bridge was situated along a bend along a shallow and rocky portion of the Ohio River. Although the low water channel was situated beneath the Kentucky span, the principal current would switch to the Ohio side during high water. 3


The crossing was constructed between 1914-17 by the McClintick-Marshall Construction Company. 1

Construction required keeping a clear width of 370-feet under the Kentucky span to allow for the passage of coal barges, which dictated that a cantilever erection for the Kentucky span and falsework erection for the Ohio span. The cantilever involved the construction of two temporary steel bents under the landward portion of the Kentucky span. Further complicating matters was the issue of ice. It was decided that the falsework on the Ohio span had to be anchored with rock-filled cribs, placed far apart so that ice could drift and pass between. 3

On each bank was a narrow-gauge incline, leading from low water to 40-feet above the top of the bank. On the Ohio shore was a track that led from a crib that supported a derrick. The Kentucky incline led to a derrick boat. 7

The plan featured three river piers and 24 land piers requiring approximately 27,000 cubic yards of concrete and 850,000 lb. of reinforcing steel was required. 6 The sand and gravel required for the concrete were sourced from a river bar a few miles downstream.

Construction began first on the middle pier in October 1914 so that truss construction could begin immediately after because it was located at a fixed bearing. 4 The middle pier, the largest of the 27 built, measured 18×63-feet and was 96-feet above low water, and required the erection of a double wall box cofferdam measuring 79×127-feet and was 14-feet-high. 7 Upon the completion of the pier, the assembly of the two truss spans began simultaneously. 4

The construction of the Ohio span included the building of a falsework that was handled by a gantry traveler that ran on the outside of the trusses. 5 The 60-foot-high gantry traveler carried two 80-foot booms on the front end to erect the falsework, floor, and lower chord. 3 It was raised to its full height of 150-feet to build the trusses. The truss spans were supported on the steel falsework until the Kentucky cantilever span was able to be self-supporting. At that time, the Ohio span was raised 8¼-inches to its final level via ten hydraulic jacks, which released the spans from their steel falsework supports. 3 6

The construction of the Kentucky span was conducted with the creeper-traveler method, which involved the building of two temporary supporting bents under panel points four and eight. Those bents had previously been used under panel points eight and twelve on the Ohio span. 3 6 The creeper traveler was designed and built specifically for the bridge and was equipped with two booms and a jacking bridge suspended from outriggers. The jacking bridge served for supporting and jacking the free ends of the lower-chord sections before they were connected to their web members.

The new Sciotoville Railroad Bridge opened on July 31, 1917, 1 much later than the original estimate of November 1916. 7 It initially featured one track over two 775-foot main spans, 152½-foot deck truss approach spans, and plate girder viaducts that measured 822-feet for the north approach and 1,062-feet for the north approach. 1 2

The Sciotoville Railroad Bridge’s completion marked a major advancement in the art of bridge engineering and was a major achievement in continuous truss analysis. It remained the longest continuous truss bridge in the world until 1935.



  • State: Kentucky, Ohio
  • Route: CSX
  • Type: Warren through truss
  • Status: Active - Railroad
  • Total Length: 3,400 feet
  • Main Span Length: 775 feet
  • Deck Width: 38.75 feet
  • Above Vertical Clearance: 39 feet


  1. “Sciotoville Bridge.” Ohio Historical Marker. May 2012.
  2. Baughn, James. “Sciotoville Bridge.” N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2012. Article.
  3. Pyle, Clyde B. “Problems and General Methods of Erecting the Sciotoville Bridge.” Engineering News-Record 80.2 (Jan. 10, 1918): 62-68. Print.
  4. Pyle, Clyde B. “Truss Erection and Jacking Operations for Two 775-Foot Continuous Spans.” Engineering News-Record 80.5 (Jan. 31, 1918): 219-226. Print.
  5. Pyle, Clyde B. “Erection Experiences at the Sciotoville Bridge.” Engineering News-Record 81.26 (Dec. 16, 1918): 1182-1185. Print.
  6. “Sciotoville Bridge Erection Is Well Started.” Engineering News-Record 77.1 (Jan. 4, 1917): 28-29. Print.
  7. “Building Concrete Piers for Sciotoville Bridge.” Engineering News-Record 75.9 (Mar. 2, 1916): 418-419. Print.
  8. “Long-Span Continuous Truss Bridge Over the Ohio.” Engineering News-Record 74.2 (July 8, 1915): 64-66. Print.

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