No votes cast

Hugh Chatham Memorial Bridge (1931)


Yadkin River Bridge #1

Steps leading from the bridge deck down to main street.

Photo taken by Danny (Steve) Clark

BH Photo #130890

Street Views 

Brief history 

Reposted from NCDOT

"Carrying the two lanes and sidewalk of Old US 21 over Elkin city streets, an active railroad line, and the Yadkin River, the Hugh G. Chatham Bridge was one of North Carolina's more imposing historic bridges. Its 24 spans totaled 1,509 feet in length. Rising high over the Yadkin were its two steel spans, each 151-foot-long, rivet-connected, Parker through trusses. To their south, across the Yadkin from Elkin, stood a single 49-foot-long, tee beam approach span. Twenty-one tee beam spans ranging in length from 49 to 62 feet, complete with concrete balustrades, extended to the north of the trusses. Such a large number was required to straddle streets and tracks without impeding them. The city-side approach spans were supported by two-column piers, clearly visible from city streets. The piers at the river spans also stood on two-column piers that were filled between by concrete web walls.

The bridge was built in 1931 by the State Highway Commission to improve the US 21 crossing of the Yadkin River and relieve traffic congestion over the only other crossing of the river, which stood one block to the west. That previous bridge was initially left in place, but it was subsequently replaced with a modern bridge. This bridge followed it into memory when it was demolished in 2010. The bridge was one of the Commission's larger bridge projects of the 1920s and 1930s. Like many projects on primary state highways, it was built with funding provided by the Federal-Aid Road Act of 1916. It was named after industrialist and philanthropist Hugh G. Chatham of Elkin, who passed away in 1929 at about the time its design and construction began."-NCDOT


Through truss bridge over Yadkin River on NC 1190 / Gwyn Ave in Elkin
Elkin, Surry County, North Carolina, and Yadkin County, North Carolina
Built 1931; Replaced 2010
- E.A. Wood & Co. of Andrews, North Carolina
Two riveted Parker through trusses
Length of largest span: 151.9 ft.
Total length: 1,508.9 ft.
Deck width: 20.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.7 ft.
Also called
Yadkin River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.24180, -80.84707   (decimal degrees)
36°14'30" N, 80°50'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/513741/4010779 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Elkin South
Average daily traffic (as of 2001)
Inventory numbers
NC 1710338 (North Carolina bridge number)
BH 23325 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of December 2007)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • February 28, 2017: Updated by Luke: Added builder
  • August 11, 2015: Essay added by Royce and Bobette Haley
  • October 20, 2013: Photo imported by Dave King
  • September 9, 2013: Updated by Michael Miller: Changed "Status"
  • February 27, 2011: Updated by Chris Patriarca: Also in Yadkin County
  • August 2, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: This bridge's demolition is imminent.
  • May 3, 2010: New Street View added by Kim Harvey
  • December 24, 2008: New photos from Danny (Steve) Clark

Related Bridges 


  • Danny (Steve) Clark
  • Kim Harvey
  • Nathan Holth
  • Chris P.
  • James Gonzalski
  • Michael Miller - michael_a_miller [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Luke


Yadkin River Bridge
Posted June 8, 2010, by mtnbird9 (zup2day [at] yahoo [dot] com)

What if we could get the town to agree to delay the demolition so that a group of concerned citizens could look into the possiblility of saving the bridge as a bike/pedestrian greenway site. The location fits in perfectly with the greenway master plan. It seems to me that so far, all the engineering inspections have been pointed towards re-opening it as a traffic bridge but maybe the cost would be less as a greenway. If we can show the way to reduce liabiltity and cost to the town, I think they would agree to save it. It's an icon so closely identified to the Town of Elkin that it's image is on the Elkin Seal.

Yadkin River Bridge
Posted March 23, 2010, by T.A. Coons (sistac [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I visited this bridge Mar 2010. It looks to me like

the downstream beams were encased in concrete when a

Sidewalk was added. An attached photo shows the

expensive to repair result.

Yadkin River Bridge
Posted November 30, 2009, by Matthew Ridpath

From what I can tell this bridge will not be removed until 2010, probably due to the scant transportation budget. I guess there isn't enough money for superfluous projects like tearing down historic bridges that aren't in the way of anything. Still, it'll be a pile of scrap someday, sadly.

Yadkin River Bridge
Posted February 22, 2009, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

AMEN with that brother!!

Yadkin River Bridge
Posted February 22, 2009, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." Proverbs 29:18.

Sadly, Terence Mann, the James Earl Jones character in the movie Field of Dreams summed it up pretty well when he said, "America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It's been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt, and erased again."

Which is why we continue to inexplicably destroy our heritage. Europe has cathedrals and castles and yes, bridges, that are centuries old and have withstood the ravages of time, weather and war.

But here? No, too many of our leaders lack the vision to recognize such structures as part of our heritage, they see such structures simply as eyesores to be destroyed (at taxpayer expense) and replaced (at taxpayer expense) with new structures that serve the same purpose as the old ones that they destroyed.

What sense does that make?

As citizens, we are told we must recycle plastic bottles, bags, newspapers, boxes, cans and other materials, but our leaders do not recycle old bridges, they just throw them away.

It's just rediculous.

Yadkin River Bridge
Posted February 22, 2009, by Matthew Ridpath

This bridge is supposedly scheduled to be removed this year, though I don't know for certain. It's pretty ridiculous, since it seems it would make a nice pedestrian crossing of the river. I noticed that the city council of Elkin voted unanimously to have it removed. I guess they think that such a bridge is an "eyesore," completely missing the beauty of v-lacing in the top members among other things, or the fact that a bridge of this type is a novelty in this state. Instead of a local attraction, they'll be left with street stubs that lead to nowhere. Ridiculous.