2 votes

LN - Cumberland Swing Bridge (1858)


digital file from original neg. of left half

Picture of the bridge before Gen. Hood's attempted invasion of the city during the Civil War.


View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #190248

Street Views 


This was the bridge that was attacked by Hood's forces during the Battle of Nashville (1864). The Confederate forces burned the bridge. Apparently, before the battle the bridge was a covered bridge, but the superstructure was modified before the battle so that the bridge can be fortified. One can see the changes made to the bridge in the 1864 photos when comparing them with the 1862 photos that were in the Harper's Weekly. The current bridge replaced the Civil War bridge and it is also a swing bridge.


McCallum through truss over Cumberland River on Louisville & Nashville Railroad
Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee
Destroyed by fire
Built 1858; Burned 1864
- Louisville & Nashville Railroad (LN)
McCallum through truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.17157, -86.77818   (decimal degrees)
36°10'18" N, 86°46'41" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/519948/4003001 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Nashville West
Inventory number
BH 47291 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 27, 2019: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 18, 2016: Updated by Luke: Noted that the bridge was a McCallum truss
  • December 3, 2011: Updated by J.P.: added Civil war Category
  • December 17, 2010: New photo from James McCray
  • December 13, 2010: Added by James McCray


  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Dana and Kay Klein


L&N - Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted August 15, 2016, by Debie Oeser Cox (debiecox1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have done some research on the railroad bridge. Plan to do more, but went ahead with the blog post about what I found. Looking for feedback. http://nashvillehistory.blogspot.com/2016/08/louisville-nash...

CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted February 8, 2012, by David Currey (decurrey [at] comcast [dot] net)

The covered railroad bridge, along with the suspension bridge, was burned in February 1862 by retreating Confederate troops under Albert Sidney Johnston to slow down the Federal army after the fall of Ft. Donelson before the capture of Nashville. The Federals rebuilt the bridge to give them access to the east bank of the river where a large encampment was located.

CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted December 22, 2010, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Tried to help with the names.. old Federal Railroad Administration records I've seen, indicate the Louisville and Nashville Railroad called the other bridge upstream "the bypass bridge" because that line of track and the bridge there was built to "bypass" the crowded downtown Union Station yard and the equally crowded swing bridge traffic. Turns out, the bypass eventually became the main line connecting the north from Louisville and Chicago, south to Birmingham and Atlanta, but the railroad kept the name "bypass" because old leases had that name.

CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted December 22, 2010, by J.P.

well got a email back from the Nashville library, and sadly for in depth research from their librarians it could cost 15 dollars an hour. sadly i do not have the money for that.

CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted December 17, 2010, by J.P.

Oh and I have emailed the Nashville Library hoping to get more information and possibly some pictures or at least and article. I do know the reason it took 2 years was because, the south was so broke it was having issues affording the bridge.

CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted December 17, 2010, by J.P.

heres what i got for you, by the way huge civil war guy. in at or around 1866 a iron fink truss was built by the louisville and nashville railroad to restore the connection. Guessing the bridge was replaced with the new bridge. heres a link to the google book i found it in. Page 385 about 3/4 of the way down, right before they started talking about building a bridge in louisville kentucky.


CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge (Old Civil War Version)
Posted December 17, 2010, by James McCray (jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Matthew and Craig,

Both of your comments seem right. Before the Civil War, or at least sometime before the CW really affected Nashville, the bridge was a covered bridge as seen in the Harper's Weekly 1862 photo. However, shortly before the war was brought to the gates of Nashville in the form of Gen. Hood's attack in 1864, the bridge apparently was modified (or completely changed) by the Union forces to make it defensible against the Confederates. One can see the changes made to the bridge in the 1864 photos. One can speculate that the Union forces remodeled the bridge from a covered bridge to a more "open" trussed bridge so that it can be more visible and make it better able to be used as a fortification by the soldiers. To answer the question about the bridge and it being in the same location as the current swing bridge, yes, it is in the same location. The previous bridge was burned by the Confederate troops and sometime afterward the current bridge superstructure was built using the same support piers. Now, the question remains, at least for me, is this: When the "military" bridge was burned, was a temporary bridge built in its place before the current bridge was built? The current bridge was built in 1916 and the previous bridge was destroyed in 1864, so there had to be a bridge built between those years unless there was just no bridge during that gap in time. This is for you Civil War buffs to figure out.

Old CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted December 17, 2010, by Matthew Lohry


The pictures appear to show two different bridges. The uncovered bridge appears from the first picture to be a wooden Pratt truss (which is unusual, as most wood RR bridges at the time were Howe trusses), and the covered one appears to be a Town Lattice truss. Most likely, the bridge was replaced to allow anyone crossing to be visible at all times, and also to install the soldiers' turrets.

Old CSX (L&N) Cumberland Swing Bridge
Posted December 17, 2010, by Craig Philpott (cphilpott [at] puc [dot] edu)

James, based on your comments, are you saying this bridge was in the same location as BH 46817? If yes, then i have a naming suggestion, if you name this bridge the same name as the current bridge with the word (old) at the end of the name, then both listings will appear side by side on the website.

Regarding the historical images, the picture dates suggest the bridge was first covered and then several years later, uncovered. What would the practical explanation for this be? I see so few covered bridges in the West and I am interested. Or, do the images show two different bridges?