1 vote

Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)



The Cincinnati Southern Railway Bridge of 1877 Over the Ohio River. 3822ft. Longest span 515ft.

From The Cincinnati Southern Railway: a history. A complete and concise history By Charles Gilbert Hall 1902


BH Photo #162302


At the time of construction the 515 foot truss of this bridge was the longest truss span in the world. Original contract was for $663,570. The final cost was slightly higher. It had eight approach spans, three of which were through trusses of 150 (1) and 70 (2) feet and five deck trusses, three of 150 ft. and two of 100. The approaches were 968 ft. of the total length.


Lost Linville variant Whipple through truss swing bridge over Ohio River on the Cincinnati Southern Railroad at Cincinnati
Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, and Kenton County, Kentucky
Superstructure replaced
Built 1869-1877; superstructure replaced by current bridge in 1922
- Jacob H. Linville of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Keystone Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Cincinnati Southern Railway (CNTP)
Linville variant Whipple through truss
Length of largest span: 515.0 ft.
Total length: 3,822.0 ft. (0.7 mi.)
Deck width: 14.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.09804, -84.54204   (decimal degrees)
39°05'53" N, 84°32'31" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/712558/4330532 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
431 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 44720 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 18, 2022: New photo from Paul Plassman
  • November 1, 2019: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • October 15, 2018: Updated by Luke: Noted that the main spans were Linville-Piper variants of the Whipple truss
  • January 10, 2018: New photo from Dave King
  • May 17, 2016: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • April 15, 2016: New photo from Art Suckewer
  • April 14, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Additional discription and details of spans and costing
  • April 12, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Added lenghts
  • April 3, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Added building company
  • April 3, 2010: Added by James Baughn



Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)
Posted October 11, 2020, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

I suspected that Linville might have been the designer/engineer and that seems to be the case. It appears that Keystone Bridge was the primary contractor but Baltimore Bridge as well as Edge Moor Iron were paid for the bridge.

There were 8 contracts for this bridge.

Three were to Keystone and were for foundations including the south abutment to pier 6, superstructure for span no. 11 and foundation and north approach pier 12, foundation pier and superstructure for plate girder bridge over 8th street.

$699,929.52 + $7374.47 + $7871.71

M. Finnigan were paid for foundation and masonry work on north approach piers 7-11. Also Finnigan did trestle work on piles from pier 12 to 8th street. (2 contracts)

$23,373,93 + $10,283.57

Baltimore Bridge Company was paid for one contract in combination with Edge Moor Iron for north approach spans 6 to 10. This contract was transferred to-


Edge Moor Iron was paid for most of the work from spans 6 to 10 having taken over the contract from Baltimore Bridge.


Jame Nixon constructed the north approach from 8th street to it's completion at ground level.


C. Shaler Smith was contracted to alter roof of I C & L RR machine shop to accommodate span #8.


I add, it's nice when you can find the details of the construction.

Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)
Posted October 10, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


The book you are getting your info from is a bit confusing. The other builders built bridges along the line but if you look closely, you'll see that Luke is correct and Keystone is listed for this crossing.


Great images and text! I admire Linville & Carnegie and Linville's quote gives a sense of the man. Somewhat modest/quiet but damn sure of himself! I would have loved to have been in the room when Linville and Eads went at it!

The drawing is the best Keystone technical drawing, capturing the details of early Keystone Bridge Co. long span bridges, but actually conforms to some of the shorter spans of the crossing, the main spans had a few extra bells and whistles. Its also why I am so enthused about Mead Ave. Mead is the last bridge in existence that fully conforms to that patent/technical design in the drawing. The 1875 Whipple span in Brazil is the next closest but its more of a miniature of the main span or slightly later structures rather than the drawing.

Whomever has authority,

Photo 5 doesn't belong. Its a later superstructure.


Art S.

Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)
Posted October 10, 2020, by Luke

Additional proof from a Structure Magazine article on the man himself.

Said article is a freely-downloadable PDF.

Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)
Posted October 10, 2020, by Luke

The main span was a Keystone-built Linville variant of the Whipple design. Jacob Linville was THE co-founder of the Keystone Bridge Co.

Attached is the patent for Linville's truss. You can clearly see it implemented in the design of the main span.

Cincinnati Southern Ohio River Bridge (1st)
Posted October 10, 2020, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

I am questioning the builder credits. I have read railroad records crediting Keystone, Baltimore, and Edge Moor Iron Co. Also M. Finnigan for the masonry work. No mention Jacob Linville. What was his part?

First Cincinnati Southern Railroad Bridge
Posted April 3, 2010, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

A good photo showing the modification of the old piers to the new bridge is at http://www.cincinnati-transit.net/southern-tour8.html