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NS - High Bridge



The High Bridge is the first Cantilever bridge built in North America. When it was built in 1877 it was also the highest bridge in the world. The bridge is 240' high from the Kentucky River.

Photo taken by James McCray in March 2008


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BH Photo #112736

Street Views 


This bridge replaced the High Bridge built in 1877 . It is higher than the earlier bridge at 308 feet Vs. 275 feet. It was built around the older bridge in 1910-11 and the older bridge was kept in service throughout the construction. The older bridge was taken down in 1912 or 1913 so the two bridges occupied the same crossing for more than a year. The two bridges shared only the piers while they were coexisting. In early photos very stylish towers can be seen at either end of the bridge. These were built in the 1850's for a suspension bridge designed by Roebling but this bridge was never finished. The towers were dismantled in 1929 to allow clearance for a second track on the bridge, although photos appear to show that the lower approximately 20 feet of the towers were used to support approaches to the new bridge. The towers were regarded as a beautiful touch for the bridge and were missed by the locals. The engineer, Gustav Lindenthal went on to build New York's Hell Gate bridge and it has large stone arch tower ornamentation at its portals. Could there be a connection?

Young's High Bridge, built in 1888 further north also on the Kentucky River was taller at 283 feet above river pool level.

The bridge and railroad is owned by the Cincinnati Southern Railway which is owned by the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. The Cincinnati Southern runs from Cincinnati to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is operated by Norfolk Southern. Cincinnati Southern Railway built and owns the bridge. Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific (CNTP) leased and continues to lease the line from Cincinnati Southern though CNTP is owned by Norfolk Southern (formally Southern).


Cantilever Bridge over Kentucky River on Norfolk Southern Railway (former Cincinnati Southern Railway) in High Bridge
High Bridge, Jessamine County, Kentucky, and Mercer County, Kentucky
Open to traffic
Built in 1911 to replace the original bridge built in 1877
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Gustav Lindenthal of Brno, Cisleithania, Austro-Hungarian Empire (Now known as Brno, South Moravia, Czech Republic)
- Cincinnati Southern Railway (CNTP)
- Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)
- Southern Railway (SOU)
Total length: 1,125.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.81747, -84.71981   (decimal degrees)
37°49'03" N, 84°43'11" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/700703/4188012 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36348 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 24, 2020: New Street View added by Geoff Hubbs
  • June 24, 2018: New photo from Mike Daffron
  • April 25, 2017: New Street View added by J.P.
  • January 22, 2017: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Attempt to clarify the ownership, lease holder and operator of this property.
  • January 10, 2017: New photos from Dave King
  • April 11, 2013: Photo imported by Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • October 11, 2010: New Street View added by Jacob P. Bernard
  • October 10, 2010: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • October 4, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Correct Overview about ownership
  • October 4, 2010: New photos from Jacob P. Bernard
  • June 1, 2010: New photos from James McCray
  • June 1, 2010: New photos from J.P.
  • April 28, 2010: New Street View added by J.P.
  • April 13, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Added discription, date and ownership info.
  • November 23, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • July 29, 2008: Updated by James McCray: Updated GPS coordinates
  • March 4, 2008: Updated by James McCray

Related Bridges 


  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Ed Hollowell - erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com
  • HAER KY-37 - High Bridge, 4 miles Southwest of Wilmore, High Bridge, Jessamine County, KY
  • James Baughn - webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com
  • WorldTimZone - High Bridge History
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Jacob P. Bernard
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Mike Daffron - daffmikron [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Geoff Hubbs


NS - High Bridge
Posted July 18, 2022, by George Oakley (georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I watched a video on YouTube from a railfanner named Jawtooth this morning.The bridge looks to be in good shape and also showed a couple of N/S trains going over it.

NS - High Bridge
Posted April 18, 2022, by Dewey (coleslaw70 [at] aim [dot] com)

Pic 32 shows what appears to be a pulley system built onto the bridge. What would that be used for?

High Bridge
Posted April 25, 2017, by J.P. (wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Added a new street view, someone was crazy enough to get up on the deck and make a panoramic and its on Google. You really get an idea of how tall this bridge really is.

High Bridge
Posted May 22, 2013, by J.P. (wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Has anyone noticed on google earth the 3d imaging of bridges starting to appear. some of them are really good, I have seen a couple that are not exactly correct. But here is an example.

High Bridge
Posted April 12, 2010, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

I have added a new entry for the first High Bridge.

High Bridge
Posted April 6, 2010, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] netscape [dot] net)

This should correctly be two entries. One for the 1877 bridge which was 275 feet high and was removed in 1929. The second (and current) bridge was built in 1911 on top of the old bridge and 33 foot higher at 308 feet which is confirmed by the historic marker in the pictures. The two bridges coexisted from 1911 until 1929 when the newer bridge had a second set of tracks added and the approaches were changed to eliminate the line to the old, lower bridge. This was also when the towers for the unfinished Robbling bridge were torn down. I suspect some of the stone work in the current approach could be stone ftom those towers.

I have considered trying to enlarge and correct this entry, but I consider that having two entries for the 1877 and 1911 bridges makes more sense. It's also an interesting footnote that these two bridges coexisted on the same site and on the same footings for about 18 years. Sounds imposable, doesn't it?

High Bridge
Posted April 6, 2010, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] netscape [dot] net)

According to HighestBridges.com the original bridge was actually 33 feet lower than the present bridge. When making historical comparisons this must be taken into account. Interestingly the original bridge structure remained intact below the newer one until 1929 when it was removed and the newer bridge was double tracked. The 1877 bridge was 275 feet tall.

High Bridge
Posted December 20, 2009, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] netscape [dot] net)

The bridge was rebuilt in 1911 with the new bridge structure being built around the original. The new bridge was wider and a second track was laid in 1929.