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The Green River Bridge at Munfordville

Photos 

View from Battlefield trail

Note the steel trestle to the north. In 1861, retreating Confederate forces used explosives to destroy the stone pier that once occupied that position.

Photo taken by Mike Page in November 2009

Enlarge

BH Photo #172156

Map 

Street View 

Timeline for the Railroad bridge at Munfordville 

Written by Mike Page

The original L&N Railroad Bridge crossing the Green River at Munfordville, KY was designed by Albert Fink, and was a fantastic 5 span "Fink Truss". At the time of it's completion in 1859, it was said to be the second longest iron bridge in the United States. The bridge was 1250 feet long, and was mounted atop a series of piers built by the Key Stone and Masonry company of Woodsonville. These piers were of sufficient height that at summer flow, the railroad tracks were 115 feet above the river's surface.

As the railroad crossed paths with the Green River slackwater system at Bowling Green, KY, it was part of a transportation system that reached all 4 points of the compass within the Commonwealth of Kentucky. This made the L&N Bridge, the Green River's locks and dams, and the city of Bowling Green "must have's" for both armies during the Civil War. Battles were fought for all these prizes, and in 1861, retreating Confederates used canister shells and gunpowder charges to destroy the north span and northernmost pier of the bridge. A wood trestle and rail deck were built to get the bridge back in service. Later in the same year, raiders burned the trestle, and it was rebuilt again. Heavily guarded, the bridge remained mostly intact for the rest of the war.

In 1898, the Fink Truss was entirely replaced with a 5 span deck truss bridge. The new bridge was placed on the original Key Stone and Masonry Piers. The pier blasted out during the war was not rebuilt. Instead, a steel trestle was built to replace the wooden one.

In 1926, the L&N Railroad elevated their rail beds, and the bridge was replaced once more. The 1926 configuration used only 2 deck truss spans, across the river proper. The remaining 3 spans were replaced with steel stringer spans. The original Key piers were used yet again, with 9' concrete caps placed on each to elevate the bridge. The 1926 bridge is still in regular use by what is now the CSX railroad.

Facts 

Overview
Warren deck truss bridge over Green River on CSX Transportation
Location
Hart County, Kentucky
Status
Open to traffic
History
Built in 1926 to raise and replace 1898 bridge
Railroads
- CSX Railroad (CSX)
- Louisville & Nashville Railroad (LN)
Design
Consists of 5 spans. The 2 spans over the river proper are deck truss spans. The remaining 3 spans are steel stringers.
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 220.0 ft.
Total length: 1,250.0 ft.
Also called
L&N Green River Bridge
Green River CSX Railroad Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.25952, -85.89736   (decimal degrees)
37°15'34" N, 85°53'50" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/597776/4124231 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Munfordville
Elevation
610 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 45833 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 10, 2010: New Street View added by Mike Page
  • August 10, 2010: New photo from Mike Page
  • August 8, 2010: Updated by Anthony Dillon: Modified truss type
  • August 7, 2010: Essay added by Mike Page

Sources 

Comments 

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 10, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Still gives a good impression of how unique a structure the Fink Truss was. Wish we still had one of this magnitude to enjoy.

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 10, 2010, by Mike Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

It seems I was mistaken. I thought the image from Harper's Weekly of the 1859 Fink Truss was a tintype photograph. Now that's I've found it it's quite obvious that it's a drawing.

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 8, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Your welcome Mike, and it is always my pleasure to assist fellow pontists. As a matter-of-fact, you'll find a lot of people on this site willing to help including a few that know railroad history like the back of their hand.

I have had that same issue with old photos. I know there a photo of the original "twin" railroad bridge from the Twin Bridges in Hendricks County, Indiana. The original iron span sat right over top of the existing roadway bridge until the current concrete arches were built in 1906. I have wanted to add this photo to the bridgehunter site......but now I can't seem to find it!!

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 8, 2010, by Mike Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Thanks for identifying the truss type, Anthony. I'm still new at this and I'm a bit lacking in truss-telligence.

Harper's Weekly published a small tintype photograph of the bridge in 1860. I've seen it online before, crediting it to the University of Louisville's archives. I've tried finding it, but there are lots and lots of photos there and I've no idea what title they used for the photo. Search terms like Munfordville, or Rowletts, or L&N don't access it. Harper's Weekly also a wartime sketch of the damage to the bridge after the north span was blown up. I'll find them one day, and get them on here.

There is also a picture of the 1898 bridge out there somewhere too. I've saw it long before finding this site, and hope to find it again eventually.

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 8, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Fascinating! I love those bridge sites that come with a built-in history lesson! It would be great if a picture could be found of the Fink Truss spans.

Keep up the good work Mike!

The Green River Bridge at Munfordville
Posted August 8, 2010, by Mike Page (mike [dot] page [at] hotmail [dot] com)

As of yet, I've not been able to find out what company built the existing bridge. I've contacted 2 railroad historians so far that confirmed the date, elevations, etc, but they weren't able to help with the manufacturer. I don't know if there is a plaque on the bridge or not, it's surrounded by private property and a battlefield preserve, and the bridge and rail beds are still very active railroad property. I have a kayak, and I've been under the bridge before. There is a promising looking landing on the north bank that looks as though it may have been a road at one time, maybe used in building the thing. I also have a new waterproof Olympus, so once the summer canoe traffic slows down (and the ticks and critters, etc), I may just take a little river trip to the bridge.

If nothing else, I can at least get some close up photos of the truss construction.