Young’s High Bridge

Young's High Bridge (Louisville Southern Railway)

Young’s High Bridge is a Pratt deck truss bridge that carried the Louisville Southern Railway and Norfolk & Western Railway across the Kentucky River near Tyrone, Kentucky. It is remarkable for its extensive length and height.


History

Originally incorporated as the Louisville, Harrodsburg & Virginia Railroad in 1868, it was reorganized as the Louisville Southern Railway (LS), with construction commencing on a route between Louisville and Harrodsburg in 1884.

In 1888, the LS began construction of a spur from Lawrenceburg to Versailles and Lexington for their Lexington to Lawrenceburg Division. 2 The route involved the construction of a bridge across the Kentucky River gorge at Tyrone, with work beginning in February 1889. 4

Substructure work was performed by Hopkins & Company while the superstructure erection was conducted by the Union Bridge Company of Buffalo, New York, and Athens, Pennsylvania. 1 Steel for the superstructure sourced from the Detroit Bridge & Iron Works Company of Detroit, Michigan.

The first train crossed the new Young’s High Bridge on August 21. 1 It was named after William Bennett Henderson Young, then president of the Louisville Southern Railroad. 1 4

The last regularly scheduled passenger train operated across Young’s High Bridge on December 27, 1937. 1

Freight traffic remained steady until a derailment at the Tyrone Power Station led to the spur’s closure in 1979. 2 A runaway locomotive on the steep spur destroyed several coal cars.

The LS, which was incorporated into the Southern Railway in 1892, became a part of the Norfolk Southern in 1980. With few customers remaining along the Lawrenceburg Division and Young’s High Bridge declared redundant, the Lawrenceburg Division between Lawrenceburg and Versailles was mothballed in November 1985. 1 The Bluegrass Railroad Museum later began operating over 5½ miles of the Lawrenceburg Division between the Young’s High Bridge and Versailles. 2

The Young’s High Bridge was notable for having never been strengthened, modified, or reconstructed. 1

Reuse

The non-profit Tyrone Bridge & Railroad Company was formed in 2003 in an attempt to raise money to preserve the Young’s High Bridge as either a rail-trail or as a westward extension of Bluegrass Railroad Museum’s excursion. 1 4 The non-profit dissolved in 2011 without much action. 2

Norfolk Southern donated the bridge to the Young’s High Bridge Historical Society in July 2008, and the crossing was purchased by Young’s Bridge Partners for $105,000 in October 2012. 4 In January 2013, it was announced that the bridge would be partly converted for use as a base jumping center for Vertigo Bungee. It would be the highest platform bridge jump in North America.

The Young’s High Bridge is used for jumps for four to ten weeks a year by Vertigo Bungee. 4


Gallery


Information

  • State: Kentucky
  • Route: Louisville Southern Railway, Norfolk & Western Railway
  • Type: Pratt Deck Truss
  • Status: Abandoned / Closed
  • Total Length: 1,659 feet
  • Main Span Length: 551 feet
  • Height: 283 feet

Sources

  1. Powell, Tim. “Young’s High Bridge, Tyrone, Kentucky.” WorldTimZone. 2006.
  2. “Track Rehabilitation.” Bluegrass Railroad Museum. 18 Sept. 2007.
  3. “Young’s High Bridge.” Bluegrass Railroad Museum. 18 Sept. 2007.
  4. Kocher, Greg. “Old Kentucky River railroad bridge will become bungee-jumping platform.” Herald-Leader [Lexington] 24 Feb. 2013.

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