Quick start guide

This guide provides a basic introduction to making changes to the site. If you have any questions or problems, please post a question in the forum.

Your settings

Before doing anything else, you may want to review your settings and decide whether you want your email address to appear on the site. You can also link to your personal website if you have one. In the future, you can always change your email address or password if necessary.

Editing a bridge

When you go to any bridge page while logged in, you will see several new buttons for making changes:

Upload photos allows you to post one or more photos for this bridge.
Edit bridge lets you make changes to the bridge's facts and categories.
Add essay gives you the ability to add free-form information that isn't covered elsewhere on the page.
Manage photos lets you add/edit/rearrange/delete any photos that you've already uploaded here.

Uploading photos

The standard photo uploader tool lets you select up to 9 photos from your hard drive to post. You can also package your photos into a ZIP archive and the system will automatically handle all of the photos (with no limit).

If you are running an up-to-date browser with the Java 1.5 plug-in available, you may wish to try the Java uploader tool, which lets you post all of the photos in a folder without requiring you to select them one-by-one. You can also view a preview of the photos and rotate them as necessary.

JPEG photos are preferred, although the system will attempt to use other common formats (however, they will be converted to JPEG). There's no need to upload photos that are larger than roughly 2 megapixels, as these will take longer to transfer without any additional benefit. If you are concerned about visitors accessing high-resolution versions of your photos, you may wish to upload lower-resolution versions only (as long as they are at least 400 pixels wide or tall).

After the photos are uploaded, you will have the opportunity to preview them, reject any photos that you don't wish to use, write a title and description for each, and determine how you wish to be credited for them. You can always go back and make changes by using the "Manage photos" or "Edit this photo" controls on the bridge page. Other users (except the Webmaster) will not be able to modify your photos.

Adding a bridge

If you can't find a particular bridge, you can create a new page for it from scratch. First, read the guidelines below to make sure the bridge is worthy of posting. Then, determine which county the bridge is located in, and find that county page. The county page will include two controls for adding a bridge:

The Add bridge here button lets you create a bridge page by filling in a form. Follow the directions and complete as much of the form as possible based on what you know. If in doubt, select the most reasonable choice, or leave it blank. After saving the form, the system will give you the link to the newly created bridge page. You can always edit the bridge in the future if you realize you made a mistake or if you find updated information.

The other button, Import from NBI, lets you browse the National Bridge Inventory for the bridge. While far from perfect, the NBI includes almost all bridges that are open to traffic on public roads. If you can find the bridge, then you won't need to manually enter the basic facts (size, location, inspection ratings, basic design, etc.), since these will already be on file. Feel free, however, to change or update anything that might be wrong or incomplete.


Categories are an important way to organize bridges, making it easier for people to research them. From the main Categories page, you can use the Add Category link to create your own category, which can be a city, builder, highway, railroad, waterway, status, or design feature. After creating a category, you can add bridges to it one-by-one from each bridge's edit form.

You can also use the Add bridges here button from any category page to add multiple bridges by doing a keyword search and selecting the bridges you want to include.

Email submissions

New! This feature is still experimental.

You can email photos from your smartphone or other device and have them quickly appear on a bridge page or in a forum comment.

First, go to the Settings page for your account and look at the email address given under "Personalized email address for submissions."

Emails sent to this special address will be processed by the system and linked to your account. Use the subject line to specify the destination:

  • To post a comment to the forum (without specifying a particular bridge), use the subject line "Forum" and then put your comment in the email body. Any photo attachments will be posted along with your comment.

  • To post a comment about a particular bridge (which will appear on that bridge's page as well as the many forum), type "Forum:" in the subject line followed by either the bridgehunter ID number, the URL of the bridge page, or the name of the bridge.

  • To post photos to a bridge page, just put the bridgehunter ID number, the URL of the bridge page, or the name of the bridge in the subject line. If possible, the filenames of the attached photos will be used to determine photo titles. For example, "north-portal.jpg" will become "North portal". However, if the filename is something generic assigned by the camera, like "DSC_0109.JPG", the system will ignore the name, but you can always fill it in later.

Caution: Since it's possible for multiple bridges to have the same exact name, if you specify the name (instead of ID number) in the subject line, the system might pick the wrong bridge.

After you send the email, the system will respond with a status update showing whether it was processed successfully or not.

Guidelines for choosing which bridges to add

Here are some guidelines for deciding whether a bridge is worthy of including here:

  • Take a look through the site to get a feel for the bridges that are featured here. If you think a bridge is historic or interesting, then other people probably will too. But don't get carried away.

  • As a general rule, bridges with truss, arch, suspension, or cable-stayed designs are welcome, regardless of age. 

    However, please use your best judgement to weed out minor or insignicant bridges. Pre-fabricated welded footbridges and corrugated pipe culverts are not worth the trouble, even if they are technically considered trusses or arches.

  • Freeway overpasses are generally not worth including, except for some early designs before the 1960s. Historic preservationists are paying more attention to some of these bridges from the pre-Interstate and early-Interstate eras. But stay away from modern overpass bridges.

  • Depression-era bridges, especially those with remaining WPA or CCC markings, are welcome, even if the bridges are otherwise fairly mundane.

  • Authentic covered bridges are certainly welcome, and even modern reconstructions are fine as long as the builders tried to stay true to historic designs with wooden trusses or arches. However, don't bother with fake-looking bridges and so-called "romantic shelters."

  • Privately-owned bridges, especially those on somebody's driveway, are generally frowned upon without permission. If the landowner welcomes visitors, or the bridge is easily accessible to the general public, or viewable fom a public location, then it's probably OK. But don't take any chances.

  • Railroad bridges are fair game as long as you can access the bridge without trespassing (only fools walk along active railroad tracks).

  • If an historic bridge has been replaced by a non-historic, modern bridge, it's perfectly acceptable to post a couple photos of the new bridge to provide proof that it's been replaced and to give a feel for the surroundings. But the focus should be on the original bridge, not its successor.

  • Just because a bridge has been declared NOT eligible for the National Register of Historic Places doesn't mean that it shouldn't be posted here. It might become eligible in the future as it ages or become more rare, so there's no harm in documenting it now.

  • Tunnels and ferry crossings, although not bridges, can be added if they are of historic age.