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Chain Bridge (1874)


Chain Bridge (Seventh)

Chain Bridge in March 1936 Flood, from book "Washington's Bridges" by DC Dept. of Highways (1956)

DC Dept. of Highways, 1936


BH Photo #362630


Seventh bridge at this location, derives its name from the third bridge, a chain suspension bridge. First bridge built by Timothy Palmer for Georgetown Bridge Co., wooden covered bridge opened 1797, rotted and collapsed 1804. Rebuilt by Georgetown Bridge Co. in kind, washed away by flood after six months. Third bridge opened 1810, chain suspension span 136' long, 15' wide designed by Judge James E. Finley of Uniontown, PA, swept away by flood 1812; fourth span damaged 1815 by floods; fifth span built 1840 and also destroyed by flooding. Sixth bridge wooden covered span of seven spans, Howe truss with arches, uncovered during Civil War to prevent arson, washed out 1870. Army engineers built iron truss replacement 1874, weakened by 1936 flood and replaced with current girder bridge.


Lost Whipple through truss bridge over Potomac River on Chain Bridge Road
Arlington, Washington, District of Columbia
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1874 for U.S. Arny Corps of Engineers by Phoenix Bridge Co.; repaired 1910, 1927, and 1936, demolished 1937
- Phoenix Bridge Co. of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers of Washington, D.C.
Wrought iron Whipple through truss with Phoenix Columns and timber floor
Total length: 1,351.0 ft.
Deck width: 20.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.92989, -77.11456   (decimal degrees)
38°55'48" N, 77°06'52" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/316706/4311121 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Washington West
Inventory number
BH 62598 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 15, 2022: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • July 26, 2022: New photo from Stewart Edwin Beitler
  • August 30, 2016: Updated by Art Suckewer: Added Phoenix Columns per photo
  • August 30, 2016: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added truss type
  • August 30, 2016: New photo from Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • August 20, 2014: Added by Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Related Bridges 


  • Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Art Suckewer - Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com
  • Stewart Edwin Beitler - stubear0430 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Geoff Hubbs