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L&N Alabama Mineral RR Bridge #11

Photos 

Overview of the bridge from the remains of Calera Road. Summer growth obscures any possibility of truly capturing the full bridge.

Photo taken by Sean Dean in August 2022

Enlarge

BH Photo #538281

Description 

Built in 1890 as part of the Alabama Mineral RR of the L&N. As-built, the 104' main span was a deck V-truss with a 6-panel, 68' 6" eastern (railroad north) timber stringer approach, and a massive 48-panel, 568' 4" western (railroad south) timber stringer approach. The bridge crossed both Camp Branch as well as "Calera Road," with the branch passing under the truss main span and the road passing under the western approach about 7-8 panels east of the abutment. The bridge deck sits roughly 40' over Camp Branch.

In April 1955, the western approach of the bridge burned, leaving only the main span, eastern approach, and a few charred timbers behind. The railroad was experiencing a strike at the time, and both the railroad and the strikers blamed one another for the fire. The bridge would not be rebuilt until 2 years later. When rebuilt, most of the western approach was replaced by a fill and a much smaller 108' timber stringer approach. The V truss center span and stone piers were also replaced with a deck plate girder center span of the same length and 3 concrete piers. Calera Road was passed under the western approach once again, though you would be hard pressed to find any evidence of it these days since the road was bypassed by County Road 42, which runs parallel to Bridge 11. Faint traces of the road's old path can still be seen from satellite view and some are used for ATV trails. The rail line that used the bridge remained active until the 60's, when a project to raise the water level of the Lay Dam was set to raise the water level of the Coosa River up to what would be deck level with the bridge the line used to cross said river. The bridge was subsequently demolished, cutting the line in half. The western end of the line saw much reduced traffic, and the tracks to all but about 2 miles of it were pulled in the early 80's before the line, now owned by Seaboard System, was sold off.

The bridge itself can be fairly easily seen from County Road 42 during the winter months, but with new growth trees growing in and around the bridge, nature hides it during the summer to the point that it is nearly impossible to spot the bridge, even from only 120' away on CR42. The bridge sits on right of way owned by the Heart of Dixie RR Museum, approx. 2 miles from the museum's current end of track.

Facts 

Overview
Out-of-service deck girder bridge over Camp Branch on L&N Railroad
Location
Shelby County, Alabama
Status
Derelict, tracks and deck removed.
History
Built 1890 with a deck V truss center span, burned in 1955, rebuilt in 1957 with a deck plate girder center span and shorter western approach.
Design
Deck plate girder with timber stringer approaches
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 104.0 ft.
Total length: 281.0 ft.
Also called
Camp Branch Bridge
Calera Road Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+33.10910, -86.63633   (decimal degrees)
33°06'33" N, 86°38'11" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/533930/3663440 (zone/easting/northing)
Inventory number
BH 95647 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 4, 2022: Updated by Sean Dean: Photos added. Corrected a few pieces of info, namely the rebuild date which occured a year later than I had previously been told, and a few other minor details.
  • August 2, 2022: Updated by Sean Dean: Updated name(s), added year built, full length, main span length, construction type, and a history of the bridge.
  • December 26, 2021: Added by Zachary S

Sources