Spottsville Railroad Bridge is a through truss swing bridge that carries CSX over the Green River in Spottsville, Kentucky.
The Louisville, St. Louis & Texas Railroad (LStL&T) was formed in 1882 with the intent of building a line from Louisville, Kentucky to Texas via St. Louis, Missouri. It was frequently referred to as the “Texas Line.”
Central to the LStL&T was its swing through truss crossing over the Green River near Spottsville. Construction began by the Keystone Bridge Company in 1888, but as the structure neared completion, the railroad and the bridge company became ensnared in a contract dispute because of delays in construction. 1 2 3 On January 20, 1889, 2 3 after the railroad sent men to take possession of the bridge, workers for the Keystone Bridge Company workers became enraged, turned the bridge, and began to remove the rails in protest. 1 Since they removed the heavy rail to one side, the center span fell into the river 1 immediately after the steamer Gen. Dawes had passed through. 2
The collapse of the bridge caused a number of workers from both the railroad and the bridge company to fall into the Green River, killing a railroad worker. 2 Keystone Bridge Company’s superintendent C. A. Cline and his foreman Mackey were quickly fished out of the river where they fled in a buggy and drove to the mouth of Race Creek before chartering a skiff and rowing to Evansville, Indiana. Maj. J. H. Sample, the chief engineer of the railroad, left at once for Evansville on the Gen. Dawes, and there, chartered a tug boat to take him to Henderson, Kentucky where he swore out warrants against Cline for murder and contempt of court. The bridge company had been ordered to stop interfering the railroad’s use of their bridge.
With the railroad fearing a lawsuit, the two parties settled their contract dispute and the Keystone Bridge Company rebuilt the destroyed swing span. 1 3 The first train crossed on March 11, 1889.
In November 1890, the War Department ordered the LStL&T to remove the central pier of its swing bridge from the Green River, claiming that it hindered navigation on the river and that several boats had crashed into it. 4 5 Additionally, the War Department wanted the span widened from 40 feet to 60 feet to provide greater horizontal navigational clearances. 5 The railroad company took the matter to court and prevailed.
The LStL&T later fell into bankruptcy and was reorganized as the Louisville, Henderson & St. Louis Railway (LH&StL) in 1896.
In mid-April 1926, the LH&StL secured permission from the War Department to construct a new railroad bridge over the Green River at Spottsville. 6 The old span had been declared deficient in that it could not handle its newest steam engines that it had recently acquired. A move had been made by some locals to permit automobile traffic across the railroad bridge.
A contract for the reconstruction of the Green River bridge at Spottsville was let to the Louisville Bridge Company 1 on April 22. 7 Notable in the contract was that it included no provision for automobile traffic as some had hoped for. It was completed by the Louisville Bridge Company with stronger Warren through trusses on June 30, 1927. 1
The LH&StL, which was mostly owned by the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N), was fully acquired by the company in 1929. Through a series of mergers, the line fell under the control of CSX. Today, the bridge sees daily usage as part of the CSX LH&STL Subdivision.
- State: Kentucky
- Route: CSX
- Type: Swing Truss, Warren Through Truss
- Status: Active - Railroad
- Total Length: 497 feet (1888);
- Main Span Length: 257 feet (1926)
- Spans: West approach: 324 feet (1926); east approach: 532 feet (1926); end spans: 152 feet (1926)
- Navigational Clearance:
- Grady, Bill. “L&N’s Green River Swing Bridges.” L&N Magazine, Dec. 2007, pp. 6-9.
- “A Diabolical Deed.” Messenger and Examiner [Owensboro], 24 Jan. 1889, p. 3.
- “Closing Up the Span.” Owensboro Messenger, 9 Mar. 1889, p. 1.
- “Will Appeal to the Courts.” Twice-A-Week Messenger [Owensboro], 20 Nov. 1890, p. 7.
- “Looking at the Bridge.” Owensboro Messenger, 18 Sept. 1891, p. 1.
- “Bridge Over Green River May Care for Vehicular Traffic.” Owensboro Messenger, 18 Apr. 1926, p. 11.
- “Contract Let for L.H. & St. L. Bridge Over Green River.” Owensboro Messenger, 23 Apr. 1926, p. 4.