3 votes

NS - Tennessee River Bridge (Knoxville)


Photo taken by Calvin Sneed in June 2010


BH Photo #167354


Street Views 


Local stone piers and approaches were built by the Knoxville and Charleston Rail Road before the Civli War. The K&C completed the wooden spans in 1867. K&C became the Knoxville and Augusta Railroad in 1875. the East Tennessee, Virginia & Georgia Railway operated the K&A independently of its other holdongs. In 1895 the Southery Railway acquired the E T, V & G Railway. In 1903 the Southern Railway replaced the wood spans with the current steel spans.


Pratt through truss bridge, with Warren deck truss approaches over Tennessee River, Neyland Drive on Norfolk Southern Railroad
Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee
Open to traffic
Built piers Pre-Civil War, covered wood main span completed 1867, steel pin joints installed 1903
- Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)
- Southern Railway (SOU)
Pratt through truss
Total length: 1,000.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.95541, -83.91982   (decimal degrees)
35°57'19" N, 83°55'11" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/236659/3982944 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 45472 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 20, 2018: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • December 28, 2011: Updated by Bob Davis: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • June 9, 2010: New Street View added by Craig Philpott
  • June 9, 2010: Added by Calvin Sneed


  • Calvin Sneed - us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Craig Philpott - craigphilpott63 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Bob Davis - bobdaviscfi [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net


NS - Tennessee River Bridge (Knoxville)
Posted June 21, 2015, by Bob Davis (bobdaviscfi [at] earthlink [dot] net)

Note to Calvin: The L & N bridge you mention for this bridge is actually about the CSX Tennessee River Bridge at Knoxville built in the 1990s by the L & N predecessor, the Marietta, Knoxville and Northern. Most likely it had wooden spans and was referred to by locals as the high bridge. Navigation requirements forced the railroads to build higher and wider spans so steamboats could safely pass under them during high tides. I appreciate your extensive collection of photos for this area. I'm working on old newspaper clippings to get more specific details on all the predecessors to the existing bridges.

Norfolk Southern Tennessee River Bridge
Posted December 26, 2011, by Bob Davis (bobdaviscfi [at] earthlink [dot] net)

The pin joint steel bridge the Norfolk Southern now uses at Knoxville (immediately below the Henley Street Bridge)uses the pre-Civil War piers that supported a wooden structure with the center span covered. I have recently found the 1903 newspaper articles stating that the wood was being replaced by steel (a loose term for then) pieces.

So the age of what you see today consists of 1850s piers, and 1903 metal. Also the one beefed-up pier was a repair done in 1993 after a tug pushing a group of barges hit it.

e-mail me if you desire more details

Norfolk Southern Tennessee River Bridge
Posted October 27, 2011, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

You're right.. the bridge was indeed built before 1940.. problem is, that's the date it was rehab'ed, and any major rehabilitation to a bridge or tunnel with the Federal Railroad Administration's oversight, is considered a rebuild, and the FRA will list the date of the rehab as its construction date. I discovered that fact on many railroad tunnels and bridges in SW Virginia. If I can locate the old L & N records (which are hard to find), it will have the original construction date of this bridge, which should go back to before the turn of the century.

This bridge is actually the original Louisville & Nashville Railroad bridge over the Tennessee River on the Corbin-to-Etowah Line, which took it to the historic L & N Depot in downtown Knoxville (the new line and its newer river bridge is now a mile and a half further west, and this bridge was sold to the Southern Railroad which had never crossed the river in Knoxville, for them to serve the businesses in Alcoa-Maryville ---the CSX Corbin-to-Etowah line bypasses those cities now).

The L & N and the Southern X-crossed there at Western Avenue downtown--the new X-crossing is now at the Alcoa Highway bridge further west.

Norfolk Southern Tennessee River Bridge
Posted December 5, 2010, by Bob Davis (bobdaviscfi [at] earthlink [dot] net)

Note in Calvin Sneed's second photo that one pier has a larger base. This was the repair needed to put the bridge back into service after it was struck by a group of barges being towed upstream by a diesel powered tugboat in the middle 1960's.

Norfolk Southern Tennessee River Bridge
Posted December 5, 2010, by Anonymous

Just to let you know that this bridge is much older than 1940. Note the pin joint and lattice beam construction methods which were used before riveted joints became common in the 1920's. I suspect that some of the components of this bridge, especially the stone piers, are from the original structure which was completed in 1867 by the Knoxville and Charleston Railroad which only got to Maryville, Tennessee. It was then sold to the Knoxville and Augusta Railroad in 1875 and got as far Walland, Tennessee. Since the railroads often moved spans when the routes were expanded from single track to double tracks, it isn't uncommon for railroad bridges to have not been a unique project with everything built at once.

Tony Holmes in his 1992 article, "Knoxville's Ferries and Bridges: 200 Years of Changing a River Town," in the short-lived publication 'Old Knoxville, Vol. 1, No.1, lists this bridge as being completed in 1926. So it is my vote that this bridge built date be pushed back to at least 1926.