5 votes

"The General" Bridge


Bridge being demolished

This is a frame from the movie "The General" showing the moment the bridge was destroyed. It is at 1:05:28 in the YouTube copy of the film.

Frame from movie; the movie is in the Public Domain


View this photo at youtu.be

BH Photo #324654


"The General" starring Buster Keaton, with original piano score

This newer version is reconstructed from the best available copies, paired with the original piano score. "The General" is regarded by famed film critic Roger Ebert as one of the best movies ever made, and this version makes it easy to watch.

YouTube user magiblot1. This movie is in the public domain.

Play video


The bridge was part of what was the most expensive shot of the silent film era. The scene cost $42,000 to prepare for in 1926, equivalent to $550,955.53 in today's (2015) money.

It is called "the Rock River bridge" at 33:09 and 57:56 in the movie.


Lost Timber stringer bridge over Rock River on Film Railroad; built to be destroyed.
Cottage Grove, Lane County, Oregon
Built & Demolished in July 23, 1926 as part of the filming of the Buster Keaton silent film "The General"
Timber stringer
Also called
Rock River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.79335, -122.98999   (decimal degrees)
43°47'36" N, 122°59'24" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/500805/4848921 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Dorena Lake
Inventory number
BH 67586 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Beam (16,885)
Built 1926 (804)
Built during 1920s (10,256)
Collapsed (432)
Cottage Grove, Oregon (8)
Destroyed by fire (236)
Lane County, Oregon (116)
Lost (28,489)
Lost 1926 (69)
Lost during 1920s (640)
Oregon (1,260)
Owned privately (1,928)
Railroad (16,459)
Timber stringer (4,320)

Update Log 

  • March 20, 2019: Updated by Roger Deschner: Added alternate bridge name from within movie, "Rock River Bridge".
  • March 17, 2019: Updated by Roger Deschner: Replaced old copy pf "The General" removed from YouTube with a good new one.
  • May 15, 2015: New video from Roger Deschner
  • May 15, 2015: Added by Luke



"The General" Bridge
Posted May 15, 2015, by Scott Gavin (trainnut1956 [at] gmail [dot] com)

By the way, the Oregon Southern and Eastern Railroad, and its trestles, featured prominently in another film - Emperor of the North - starring Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine. It's a pretty dreadful and violent film, the only saving grace is that it also contains some of the best steam railroad action scenes to ever grace the silver screen.

"The General" Bridge
Posted May 15, 2015, by Scott Gavin (trainnut1956 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge was built for the film and was not a bridge used by the Oregon Southern and Eastern Railroad itself. It was designed to collapse at the climatic moment of the film, so bridge affectionados can relax - no real bridge was harmed during the making of this movie!

Of more interest is the over-under trestle shown part way through the movie in the scene where the raiders, on the top level of the trestle, throw ties down onto the train passing below in hopes of derailing it. There were only three or four known Over and Under Trestles in Oregon, and most of them don't match the setting in the movie - and none of them were anywhere near Cottage Grove, where the film was made. For years railroad fans and film nuts have wondered where that particular scene had been shot.

Lloyd Palmer, Terry Gookin, Len Wall and a group of several other rail historians and fans, myself included, finally located photos of an over-under trestle at Black Rock, Oregon, west of Dallas that match the trestle in the movie exactly, and given that the logging railroad at Black Rock was owned by George Gerlinger, and that Buster Keaton had sent the locomotives to be used in the movie to Gerlinger Locomotive Works to be refurbished and back-dated for the film, we knew that the movie engines had been in the vicinity, and personal examination of the trestle site and comparing it with both historic photos of the trestle and stills of the movie proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the over-under trestle scene was filmed at Black Rock.