2 votes

Brooklyn Bridge


Vintage photo

BH Photo #338809


Excerpts from "River Towns of Central Kentucky" By Melissa C. Jurgensen, 2008

Started in January 1870, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in October 1871. The dedication ceremony was held on October 10, 1871, when a large crown gathered on a brisk morning among the autumn leaves along the bank of the river to witness the event. As part of the celebrations, Capt. Thomas Cogar drove the first stagecoach across the bridge and declared it officially open.

While the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge aided commerce by allowing more traffic to easily cross the river, it did not bring prosperity to all. The opening of the bride brought the closure of Cogar's Ferry, which had operated from a landing near Brooklyn since 1845. During tot Tollgate Wars, a violent vigilante group knows as the Tollgate Raiders formed to terrorize tollgate keepers. In reaction to their terrorist tactics. the 1896 legislature ordered counties to assume control over all toll roads and bridges, and abolish the tolls. The counties initially refused the forced buyout of the turnpike companies. However, they eventually complied due to an escalation in the violence.

After many years of serving as a toll bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge and turnpike wer made free as a a direct result of the Tollgate Wars that were waged in the state to combat high tolls and poor road maintenance throughout the late 1800s. However, although the bridge was now free for travelers to cross, a fine of $5 was assessed against anyone who crossed the bridge riding a horse faster than a walk.

The Brooklyn Bridge was a 250-foot-long iron through truss bridge that carried the Lexington, Harrodsburg and Perrysville Turnpike across the Kentucky River. Before the construction of the Boone Tunnel immediately north of the bridge, travelers would have to pass along a dangerous projection over the cliff edge, and then the road would double back to the bridge.

In 1926-27, the Highway Department improved what is today known as U.S. Highway 68. As part of the improvements, the treacherous stretch of road that once led to the Brooklyn Bridge was bypassed, and a tunnel was created through the cliff immediately to the north of the bridge, allowing direct passage onto the bridge. Area historian Clyde Bunch recalls crossing the Brooklyn Bridge many times as a young child on fishing trips to Herrington Lake. The plank flooring of the bridge rumbled underneath the wheels of the family car. In those days, many boats still ran on the river, and he would always look for them while crossing.

When originally constructed, the Brooklyn Bridge was designed to support the weight of the heaviest of pre-automobile traffic. However, in the 1900, the single-lane structure began to weaken under the ever-increasing strain of automobile traffic. After 82 years of continuous service, the old structure finally failed when it was being crossed by a heavy food-service truck on November 30, 1953. Because of the 40-foot fall into the river, the driver's back was broken in three places. Fearing his truck might catch fire, the driver was able to remove himself from the wreckage. He successfully sued the state for the unsafe bridge and was awarded $50,000 for his injuries. Kentucky governor Lawrence Wetherby stated that "no man was worth $50,000," and having the power at the time, reduced the driver's award to $10,000.


Lost Through truss bridge over Kentucky River on US 68 west of Wilmore
Mercer County, Kentucky, and Jessamine County, Kentucky
Replaced by new bridge
Built 1871, opened Oct. 13, 1871, collapsed on November 20, 1953, replaced in 1955
- Banden, Butin & Bowman (Contractor)
- L. Rust (Mechanical Engineer)
- Swift's Iron & Steel Works of Newport, Kentucky (Iron Supplier)
- William Gunn of North Carolina (Engineer)
Three span 14-panel iron, pin-connected Pratt through truss with vertical end-posts
Claimed to be built to Brundages Patent
Approximate latitude, longitude
+37.86058, -84.70135   (decimal degrees)
37°51'38" N, 84°42'05" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/702210/4192836 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 69524 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 2, 2020: Updated by Luke: Corrected builders to prexisting categories
  • January 2, 2020: Updated by Art Suckewer: builder, iron mill, engineers and patent
  • December 30, 2019: New photos from Walter Laughlin
  • January 19, 2019: New photos from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • April 23, 2018: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • October 7, 2015: Added by Jacob P. Bernard


  • Jacob P. Bernard
  • Art Suckewer - Asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com
  • Melissa Brand-Welch - melissabrandwelch [at] msn [dot] com
  • Walter Laughlin
  • Luke


Brooklyn Bridge
Posted June 3, 2020, by Mark Grauwelman (markgrauwelman [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sunday June 30th 1929 of anyone is interested.

Brooklyn Bridge
Posted December 31, 2019, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Did we ever establish a builder for this one? Although it has some of the hallmarks of Keystone Bridge Co. I'd be very surprised if it was, given there are no Keystone Columns.


Art S.

Brooklyn Bridge
Posted January 19, 2019, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

A quick check using Google Earth comes up with at least 500 feet.

Brooklyn Bridge
Posted January 19, 2019, by Daniel

Wow. Quite a bridge.

I agree with the total length appearing significantly over 250'. I would have thought each of the spans was close to that. One of the article clippings states signs dictated 200' spacing between vehicles, which would be unusual on a 250' bridge (it would simply be one at a time then).

I also question the newspaper's claim of the truck weighing 1.5 tons. I could see it being a "1.5 ton truck" as in rated for 1.5 tons, but it's a reasonably heavy duty truck. I'd expect fully laden weight to be well over 6 tons but have no clue what was in it. Unladen would be significantly under 6 tons though, so I have no clue if it was overweight.

Brooklyn Bridge
Posted October 7, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Very cool bridge with lots of cast iron! The end posts look entirely cast but I can't tell the design of the other verticals. They look open in the middle - suggesting that the same design could have been used for Pratt or Whipple trusses, similar Keystone Columns. However, to my eye, these don't appear to be Keystone Columns.

Also, the bridge looks much longer that 250'.

Thanks again for sharing!

Art S.