Rating:
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CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge

Photos 

Photo taken by Calvin Sneed in November 2010

Enlarge

BH Photo #185050

Map 

Street Views 

Facts 

Overview
Camelback through truss bridge over Cumberland River on CSX Railroad in downtown Nashville
Location
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee
Status
Open to traffic
History
Built 1931
Railroads
- CSX Railroad (CSX)
- Louisville & Nashville Railroad (L&N; LN)
Design
Camelback through truss swing main span and two Camelback through truss approach spans
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.17152, -86.77847   (decimal degrees)
36°10'17" N, 86°46'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/519922/4002995 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Nashville West
Inventory number
BH 46817 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 6, 2017: New photos from Chris Simmons
  • August 18, 2016: Updated by Luke: Corrected built date via forum post from Debie Oeser Cox
  • March 6, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • March 1, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • October 31, 2012: Updated by J.P.: corrected Location
  • November 8, 2010: Added by Calvin Sneed

Related Bridges 

Sources 

  • Calvin Sneed - us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Douglas Butler
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Luke
  • Chris Simmons - atlanta_bulldog_red [at] yahoo [dot] com

Comments 

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted April 4, 2017, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiec [at] gmail [dot] com)

There seems to repair work happening at the south support pier for the swing bridge. There is some sort of buoy in the river. A reader of my blog says the support pier has been removed. Anyone have information about the project?

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I found three articles in the Tennessean showing that the current bridge was under construction, in 1931. You are welcome to go to the blog and see the update and the articles. You may download them, of course. If you use them I hope you will give credit to my blog as well as the Tennessean. I have not yet found a date of completion, but I am looking through 1932 newspapers. I will update the blog again when I find the completion date.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Seems like the RR bridge erectors got into the riveting a decade or so quicker than the firms building ones on roadways. I've wondered if perhaps they had a rail car with a field riveting setup in it that they could pull right up to the work site.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Luke

Fair point.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

Luke,

Not all 1890s bridges were pin-connected. I've seen riveted examples, such as this bridge on the Katy Trail in Missouri built in 1896:

http://bridgehunter.com/mo/callaway/rivaux-katy/

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiec [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks, y'all. I am going to keep searching to see if I can find anything on a later bridge. If I do I will get back to you.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Luke

Debie, that's what is referred to as a "shoe" or "pedestal".

It is used to connect bridges to their abutments/piers.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I see there are bolts at the bottom and rivets at the top but what about the middle, is that a pin?

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks, and what that photo I posted before, is this some kind of connection?

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hi Debie:

See photographs 3,9,10,14,16 for examples of pinned connections:

http://bridgehunter.com/ks/cloud/republican-uprr/ This bridge is located in a rural area, as opposed to an urban environment, but it is an example of an 1890s railroad bridge, as is its neighbor just downstream:

http://bridgehunter.com/ks/cloud/pegram/ This bridge has both pinned and riveted connections, as it was built during a time of transition.

This bridge has newer bolted and welded connections: http://bridgehunter.com/ks/brown/71025803360/ It was built in 1940, which was just about the end of the truss era.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I second Luke's comment. It can take years to learn all the details. All of us are still learning.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Luke

Debie, don't sweat not understanding all the engineering tidbits.

This is a riveted connection on the present bridge: https://bridgehunter.com/photos/18/50/185053-L.jpg

This is a pin connected bridge built in the 1890s by the same company that built the 1897 Cumberland bridge: https://bridgehunter.com/ar/yell/danville-rr/

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sorry, I don't know enough about railroad bridge construction to carry on a conversation. The intent was to share some documented information. I hope some of you will enjoy the blog post. If you enjoy Nashville history you might find other posts on the blog to be of interest. There is an index near the top left under the little photo of the Shelby Street bridge. Like I said railroad bridges are not my thing, but I hope I gave someone something to think about.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Help me out here. Is this an example of a pinned connection or a riveted connection? And how do I spot the differences?

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yes, the overall shape of the bridge in the newspaper photo is similar, but that bridge appears to be a Parker truss. This bridge is a Polygonal Warren truss.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Luke

It would be even more odd for an 1890s bridge to feature riveted connections, which didn't come into engineering prominence until the 1910s.

The current bridge has riveted connections, not pinned connections like an 1890s bridge would.

So that's proof enough that the bridge isn't from 1897.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

If anyone can find documentation of a later bridge, please post it or send it to me. I will be happy to update the blog post. I do want to mention that from 1913, through 1920, I could find no mention of a new bridge being built at this site. I don't dispute one may have been built at a later date. But unless I have documentation, I will stick the 1897-98 date. Please take time to read the blog. Read about the reasons a new bridge was built. Some of you obviously believed that a wooden bridge from 1859, stood there until 1916. I didn't see how a wooden bridge have carried the increased weight. That didn't make sense to me and that is part of why I started researching the subject. I don't know much about reailroads, but I have been researching Nashville's history for more than 40 years and I do my best to be accurate. (Image is from the Tennessean Feb. 11, 1898.)

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This image appeared in the Tennessean on July 4, 1909. It is a photo of the Woodland Street Bridge. In the background you can see the railroad bridge. Although the newspaper image is not very good you can see the tender's house on the railroad bridge. The shape of the bridge looks to be same as the current bridge. It would be very odd for a newspaper to report in 1897-98 that a new had been built and completed if that had not happened. The caption on the image says, "Woodland-Street Bridge, L&N Railway Bridge Beyond." Are you aware that the Fort Pitt 1916 plaque is not on the railway bridge that is over the river?

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Justin

If the bridge shown in that book is pre-1897, then your timeline is confirmed as incorrect.

According your timeline, the 1897 bridge was preceded by an 1860s Fink truss.

The bridge in those images is not a Fink truss, rather a Pratt truss.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

My research was not confined to newspapers. Both of these clips for example are from The Railway Age, volume 24, 1897. The book is available online - https://books.google.com/books?id=v3RCAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA743&dq=%...

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiec [at] gmail [dot] com)

The photos in the book in the book referenced by anonymous were taken in 1884-1885. The photos in this section of the book, of Gier photos, published by Jim Hoobler has this comment. "In 1884 Otto Giers began a personal photographic project. He set out to document his hometown, and he did so in several hundred views. All of the subsequent views were made by him in 1884-85". - https://books.google.com/books?id=cxVrG042w6wC&pg=PA31&dq=na...

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 18, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

One has to be at bit careful when looking through news articles concerning early railroad bridges. The very earliest railroad bridges, primarily those from the 1860s-1880s, have frequently been replaced two or three times. It is not unusual to find that the original bridge may have been in place for a mere 10-15 years before heavier railroad traffic, or in some cases flood damage, required its replacement. Thus, an 1870s bridge might have been replaced in the 1890s and again in the 1920s. In some instances, the replacement projects might not have received as much media coverage as the initial construction project.

To complicate matters a bit, the newer trusses often reused pylons from old bridges. Likewise, some very old trusses may have had their pylons replaced. Thus, the dates on the trusses and the pylons may be mismatched. In the case of this bridge, the pylons look much older than the trusses to me.

The best way to determine the age of a bridge (aside from plaques of course) is to look at details of construction. Generally, lighter weight bridges are older than heavier ones. Pinned connections with eyebars are generally older than riveted connections with gusset plates. In turn riveted connections are usually older than bolted or welded connections. In addition, bridges with lots of lacing tend to be older that those with little or no lacing.

If I had to take a wild guess at a construction date for this one, I would say the current bridge was built sometime between 1910-1930. If the bridge was in fact built in 1897-1898, it would have been an extremely heavy bridge for its time. If so, it would have been a very early, and noteworthy, example of such a heavy bridge.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 17, 2016, by Anonymous

I believe that this book shows two photographs of the bridge the newspaper clipping is referring to.

https://books.google.com/books?id=cxVrG042w6wC&pg=PA31&dq=na...

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 17, 2016, by Justin

This bridge is far too heavily constructed to have been built 1897.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 17, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

After doing further research, I can find no source that the bridge was built in 1916. The date seems to be based on the photo of a plaque posted by Calvin Sneed. But that plaque is on a different bridge, adjacent to this one. The plaque is on the CSX, 1st Ave. North Overpass. The bridge was built in 1897 and 1898, as documented in my blog post. The image is from the Tennessean, Feb. 11, 1898. The references in the article make it clear that this is the bridge across the Cumberland from East Nashville to downtown Nashville. The blog contains further documentation on the bridge. http://nashvillehistory.blogspot.com/2016/08/louisville-nash...

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted August 14, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I researched and wrote a blog post about the L & N Railroad Bridge across the Cumberland at Nashville. You can read the post here - http://nashvillehistory.blogspot.com/2016/08/louisville-nash...

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted July 22, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This one is way too heavy to have been built in 1859. There might have been an older bridge at this location that got replaced. The 1916 date listed here seems reasonable for this one.

CSX - Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted July 22, 2016, by daniel medlin (runtmed [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Rock island swing bridge built 1859

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted January 30, 2013, by Don Morrison

The Railfanning link is referring to a swing bridge at Clarksville, not Nashville.

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted January 29, 2013, by Chris Wage (cwage [at] quietlife [dot] net)

Yeah, you guys are right -- also, I'm an idiot, since the original wooden bridge burned down in 1864, so that makes no sense.

Looks like those sources are either wrong or they are referring to a different bridge..

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted January 29, 2013, by Matt Lohry

Chris,

The technology associated with this bridge and its design was not available until around 1900, so I think that the build date shown is correct. This bridge is most likely a replacement for the bridge that was built in 1859. This is definitely a post-1900 truss design.

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted January 29, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The truss spans of this bridge stylistically date to the 20th Century. The 1916 date seems appropriate. Trusses with members this massive and with riveted connections were not built in 1859. Very few railroad truss bridges built before 1880 exist today because they were not strong enough to handle increasing loads.

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted January 29, 2013, by Chris Wage (cwage [at] quietlife [dot] net)

Hey guys,

I am finding numerous references claiming that this bridge was built in 1859, not 1916.

As it replaced the original wooden structure burned in the civil war, this seems much more likely, unless the bridge was not replaced for over 50 years.

References:

http://railfanning.org/2009/11/historic-trestle-a-landmark-i...

"Nashville Then and Now" also makes reference to an 1859 build date.

Thoughts?

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted March 6, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

My pleasure MP!

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted March 6, 2011, by Mike Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Thank you again for you help, Anthony. All done, t'is right here.

http://bridgehunter.com/tn/davidson/bh48374/

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted March 6, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Mike, as long as it's separated by land between the 2 structures you would consider it to be individual.

Here is an example of a 2 span bridge (1 structure) over a stream and a short land separation followed by a plate girder over a roadway that is another structure:

http://bridgehunter.com/in/marion/fall-river-creek/

http://bridgehunter.com/in/marion/bh39071/

You should add a new page for the little girder bridge and post your pics to it! :)

CSX Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted March 6, 2011, by Mike Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I have a question, that may be either technical or opinion. I was wandering around Nashville this morning, taking pictures of this n' that, and discovered that approximately 100' from this bridge, the railroad crosses 1st Ave. on the little bridge I've attached a photo of. This bridge was built by the same company at the same time. So, does it count as a separate bridge, or a stand-alone one?