11 votes

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge



Photo taken June 2005 by James Adorno

BH Photo #103308

Street Views 


Two-span through truss bridge over Kentucky River on KY 2328 (Old US 25) in Lexington
Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky, and Madison County, Kentucky
Open to traffic
Built 1871; rehabilitated 1955
- Louisville Bridge & Iron Co. of Louisville, Kentucky
- William Gunn of North Carolina
Two pin-connected Warren through trusses. Top chord and struts are cast iron.
Length of largest span: 216.8 ft.
Total length: 442.8 ft.
Deck width: 16.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 16.4 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.88724, -84.33853   (decimal degrees)
37°53'14" N, 84°20'19" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/734047/4196643 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2015)
Inventory numbers
KY 034-B00010N (Kentucky bridge number)
BH 18768 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of April 2018)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 44.1 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • February 2, 2022: New photo from Paul Plassman
  • April 2, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added Builder.
  • August 5, 2013: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added cast iron details.
  • May 26, 2013: New photos from J.P.
  • May 25, 2013: New photo from James McCray
  • May 6, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added builder based on J.P.'s forum post
  • July 23, 2010: New Street View added by Andrew Hansford
  • June 6, 2010: Updated by Bill Eichelberger: Added Madison County.
  • May 13, 2010: New photos from James McCray
  • May 13, 2010: New photos from J.P.
  • April 9, 2010: New Street View added by Nathan Holth
  • May 2, 2009: Updated by C Hanchey
  • October 10, 2005: Posted photo from James Adorno

Related Bridges 



Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 5, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


What a shame they destroyed the bridge pictured in your link. I was in northern Hunterdon Co., NJ today and drove over the cast iron Main Street bridge in Clinton and the Phoenix Column bridge on Lower Landsdown Road, which is about 5 minutes away. Both are really spectacular. The site of the Fink truss is also near by.

While Hunterdon has been putting up new truss bridges to replace old ones, they just don't have the character of these amazing old ones.


Art S.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 5, 2014, by J.P. (wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I'm guessing an onsite contractor or engineer. I'm glad we did find the builder for the bridge. Great work Mr. Holt.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 2, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I don't know if the Historical Society was just guessing that William Gunn built this bridge, or if he was an on-site contractor. But I found this advertisement:


that clearly lists Louisville Bridge and Iron Company of Louisville, Kentucky

Note similarities with this bridge:


Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted March 25, 2012, by Rory (rcundiff67 [at] gmail [dot] com)

My grandfather committed suicide off of this bridge.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted October 9, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I think all that they did at some point in time was to raise the original spans up by several feet to protect from flood damage. But this is not a 2 year old bridge...they couldn't build anything this nice nowadays no matter how hard they tried.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted October 9, 2011, by jojo (jcba [at] roadrunner [dot] com)

This bridge is 2 years old!!! The original bridge was torn down and completely replaced. It is limited to one-way traffic so cars have to wait on each side for an opportunity to cross. The weight limit is 15 tons so when some of these behemoth SUV's are in front of me I let them get across before starting over.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted August 4, 2011, by J.P.

I'm hoping to hear back from Madison County Historical Society soon. I believe that county actually maintains the bridge. Or at least they seem interested in it. The rep I have been talking to has been pushing for getting the bridge on the NRHP. But that bridge will soon be hitting 150 years old. Still standing and serving traffic. Impressive. Nuff said.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted August 4, 2011, by Tom Hoffman (tehoffm [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Finally, I got to see this incredibly neat and massive old bridge last month. I was on my was way back home from a vacation down south with a group of friends and we stopped and ate in Richmond and I let them know of a bridge not too far from the interstate. 1871, man thats so old for a massive metal truss with such long spans, and seems to have been very well kept. In those days mainly wooden covered bridges were being built. Not sure if all of the workers survived building this one. Of course my friends are not bridge people like I am, but man were they saying things like this is an awesome bridge or I've never seen anything like it. I just about forgot the interstate bridge was above. Whichever county owns the bridge or the state needs to keep this rare structure maintained and around for generations to enjoy.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted May 6, 2011, by J.P.

Madison County Historical society sent me some info on the likely builder of this bridge. Not sure about much else though.

William Gunn was born in North Carolina in 1797. He became an itinerant preacher for the Methodist Episcopal Church's Henderson, Kentucky circuit in 1819. He married Frances Adams, the daughter of a Shelbyville, Kentucky, Methodist minister, in 1826. Their children included William Gunn the younger, who was an engineer and inventor. During the Civil War, he served as chief engineer of the U.S. Military Railroad and constructed several forts in Kentucky. After the war, he built the bridge at Clay's Ferry, Kentucky and invented the "H" column for steel construction.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 18, 2011, by J.P.

Talked to a rep at the Madison county Kentucky historical society, and they are going to bring up getting this bridge added to the NRHP at their next meeting.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 14, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)


I knew this bridge was old and rather unique, but your comment caused me to take a closer look at it. What an absolute gem this structure really is!

The endposts appear to be fairly normal built up members with cover plates. And the eyebars look pretty normal from what I can see. But after that I find some unusual and very special attributes.

I had noticed the diagonals before. They are composed of 2 channels that have been inverted and then ribbon-laced together. The use of ribbon-lacing is pretty uncommon in itself, but I have never seen another bridge with truss members like this. The Tobias Bridge in Indiana has paired (flat) iron plate ribbon-laced together for it's verticals.

The upper chords and struts are also like nothing else I have seen. They appear (unless my weary eyes are deceiving me) to be 8-sided (octagonal)columns for the chords, and 6-sided (hexagonal) columns for the struts. How these have been formed is anyone's guess. Although there are no really good close-up shots of these, I don't see any flanges like those on Phoenix or Keystone columns.

Please fellow Bridgehunters, take a close look at this bridge and comment on anything else you see...... or feel free to tell me if I'm seeing things that don't exist!

This landmarks just screams "I am very old and unique....please preserve me!" I just hope that Kentucky and it's less-than-stellar preservation record listens!

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted April 14, 2011, by J.P.

Ok, i was bored today looking at some old pics, and I noticed that possibly this bridge had tube top chords and also the portal is looks like the Hopewell bridge in Greenup County. Is it possibly that this bridge is Phoenix?

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted March 19, 2011, by Bill

I was born in 1948 and grew up on the Kentucky River. As boys we used to jump off that bridge into the river. It really brings back memories to see these pics. There was a sandy section of the river just east of the bridge that we used as a beach. I have camped out and cooked hotdogs over a campfire many times there.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted May 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Those ribbon laced diagonals are really neat.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted May 13, 2010, by J.P.

found a K or R stamp on this bridge. really not sure what company represents. any ideas.

Old Clay's Ferry Bridge
Posted August 22, 2006, by Jim Corcoran (jimcoriii [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Went over this bridge on the bike just this evening, August 22nd 2006. The deck is now steel grate and the bridge is signed as one lane only. New, gated, apartment/condo complex at the top of the hill in Madison County will insure this old bridge remains in good repair for the forseeable future.