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First Cairo Railroad Bridge


Book photo: Overview

This photo comes from George S. Morison's 1892 book, "The Cairo Bridge"

Photo archived by the Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #102082



Lost through and deck truss bridge over the Ohio River carrying the Illinois Central Railroad in Cairo
Cairo, Alexander County, Illinois, and Ballard County, Kentucky
Replaced by the current bridge, reusing many of the piers in the process
Built 1889 under engineer George S. Morison; replaced 1949-52
- Alfred Noble of Stockholm, Sweden
- E.L. Corthell
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts
- Union Bridge Co. of Buffalo, New York & Athens, Pennsylvania
- Illinois Central Railroad (IC)
From Illinois to Kentucky:
One Pratt deck truss span, 106 ft.
Seventeen Pratt deck truss spans, each 150 ft.
Two pin-connected, 17-panel Whipple through truss spans, each 518.5 ft.
Seven Whipple through truss spans, each 400 ft.
Three Pratt deck truss spans, each 249 ft.
Twenty-one Pratt deck truss spans, each 150 ft.
One Pratt deck truss span, 106 ft.
Length of largest span: 518.5 ft.
Total length: 20,461.0 ft. (3.9 mi.)
Also called
The Grandest Bridge in the World
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.02302, -89.17532   (decimal degrees)
37°01'23" N, 89°10'31" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/306493/4099639 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 15012 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 5, 2018: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • June 25, 2017: Updated by John Marvig: Added category "railroad"
  • September 24, 2016: New photo from Dave King
  • February 21, 2014: New photo from Mark Frazier
  • March 13, 2006: Posted new photos

Related Bridges 


  • HAER IL-36 - Cairo Railroad Bridge
  • HAER NE-2 - (Behemoths: The Great River Bridges of George S. Morison)
  • Mark Frazier - mfrazier404 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com


First Cairo Railroad Bridge
Posted March 10, 2015, by Nathan Holth

HAER NE-2 Drawings Converted To PDF

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 782,829 bytes)

First Cairo Railroad Bridge
Posted December 9, 2006, by Greg

This Bridge is huge