9 votes

NS - New River Bridge (1963)


Photo taken by Calvin Sneed in November 2010


BH Photo #188012

Street View 


NS 224 at New River

Northbound NS intermodal train #224 crossing the bridge.

Alex Wood

Play video on YouTube


The New River Railroad Bridge is the tallest railroad bridge in the State of Tennessee, at 389 feet above the New River Gorge. The river channel cantilever span stands on two hollow piers, 392 feet apart. The bridge was built along a realignment of Cincinnati Southern's infamous "Rathole" Line, between Danville, Kentucky and Oakdale, Tennessee, to reduce the number of tunnels and fault line crossings on the Cincinnati-to-Chattanooga route. The realignment also lowered the steep incline into the New River Valley northward from Elgin, Tennessee, eliminating the need for the Robbins Tunnel and the old New River crossing (see Cincinnati Southern New River Bridge in this category).


Warren deck truss bridge over New River on Cincinnati Southern (Norfolk-Southern) Railroad
New River Community, Scott County, Tennessee
Open to traffic
Built 1963 to bypass Robbins Tunnel (T15) and several fault lines on old railroad
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Cincinnati Southern Railway (CNTP)
- Norfolk Southern Railway (NS)
- Southern Railway (SOU)
Continuous 3-span Warren deck truss bridge, with one main Warren cantilever over the river channel, flanked by 3 deck plate girder approach spans on either end (total of 6).
Total length: 1,068.0 ft.
Deck width: 10.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Cincinnati Southern New River Bypass Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+36.39593, -84.55784   (decimal degrees)
36°23'45" N, 84°33'28" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/719020/4030635 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Oneida South
1120 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 47060 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 25, 2019: Updated by Luke: Added builder per forum comment
  • May 17, 2017: New photo from Aaron Blake
  • May 15, 2013: Updated by Zachary S: Added category "Tall Bridges"
  • November 30, 2012: New photos from Alex Wood
  • November 22, 2010: Added by Calvin Sneed

Related Bridges 


  • Calvin Sneed - us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Alex Wood
  • Luke


NS - New River Bridge
Posted May 13, 2022, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

There were a couple of porta's up there when I visited. They were gone a few months later. It was during a slight repair to the approach underside deck trusses on either side of the main cantilevered truss.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted November 23, 2020, by AndrewJ.510 (Andynjolly [at] gmail [dot] com)

The Southern Railway System Magazine, July 1963

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by George Oakley (Georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Calvin,is that a porta-pottie in picture #92?

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

July 1963. First train crosses, Southern Railway coming from the north.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

July 1963. Working to join the two sides.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

July 1963. Working to join the two sides.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963. My Dad, F. J. Peifer, is on the right.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963. My Dad, F.J. Peifer, is on the right.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

June 1963

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sorry--That was sent prematurely. Photo in earlier comment shows my Dad on the right in the foreground and Superintendent Delbert (Deb) Cornett just below him.

I will send other photos separately.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted July 25, 2019, by Stephen Peifer (sfpeifer [at] gmail [dot] com)

My Dad, F.J. Peifer, was the chief construction engineer for this bridge, working out of the Birmingham Office of the American Bridge Division of U.S. Steel Corporation. At age 13, I visited the site with him several times in June and July of 1963. I was present when the men struggled to get the two sides to join at the center after they discovered a significant misalignment. I was also present when the first train came across from the north in late July 1963. It was a wonderful experience for a teenager, watching real professionals at work on such a large, dangerous project. I took photos with my little, cheap Ansco camera, and they turned out better than one might expect. Eleven are attached.

Photos 1 through 9 are from June 1963.

NS - New River Bridge
Posted October 25, 2018, by Ed McCoy (enmreal [at] gmail [dot] com)

My dad was the lead ironworker foreman during construction of this bridge from May 1962 thru April 1963. Our family resided in Oneida during this time. I remember, as a eleven year old, flying across the top portion of the bridge in a skip pan (with my mother and younger brother)from a crane with my dad riding the headache ball on the crane. Oddly enough, I ended up spending the majority of my career with TVA Nuclear as a crane and rigging engineer. Really enjoyed your pictures.

NS New River Bridge
Posted April 18, 2017, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Alex, the video gave me chills of the train crossing on the bridge, and the train horn is so nostalgic. Thanks for capturing and posting this part of Americana!

NS New River Bridge
Posted February 10, 2014, by Alex Wood

From one of my recent trips...

Northbound NS #144 headed to Elkhart, IN crosses the bridge on a nice morning.

Photo angle was taken from private property that some folks I know own.

NS New River Bridge
Posted November 12, 2013, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Deleted the 3 photos Mr. Hollowell referred to. Admittedly, they were blurry although they didn't look to be when I uploaded them.

When I come across a bridge structure as magnificent as this one, it is difficult to contain my excitement.

I will try harder to keep that in check, sir.

NS New River Bridge
Posted November 4, 2013, by Matt Lohry

For what it's worth, I don't look so much at the quality of the photos that are posted on this website. To me, this site is aimed at preserving the memory of the subject bridges, as most of the bridges that are featured on this site are either doomed or have already disappeared. To me, there can never be enough photos of any noteworthy or historic bridge, and I say that the more that any one person can post of any one bridge, we are better off as bridge enthusiasts. If you want top-notch photo quality and perfection in every shot, well then, Flickr is the place for you. If you're out and about, and you find a bridge that would be exciting for us here on Bridgehunter and all you have is an I-phone 2g, fire away and post like crazy; I'll be more than happy to look at whatever pics you can get--after all, that bridge that gets photographed, whether with "messy" pics or otherwise, may not be there next time you go to see it. Just my thoughts...

NS New River Bridge
Posted November 3, 2013, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

I held back for a long time but It kill me that folks like you are complaining about my very well justified criticism of bad, yes bad photos being dumped on the site by others. I waited 4 months and since I made my last comment. Your encouragement of poor photos being posted was something I couldn't be silent on any longer. 109 good photos is good. 109 good and junk photos is sad.

It kills me that Bill Wood feels that his fine efforts are in question.

I welcome Mr. Sneed's fine efforts as well but it seems he just needs to try harder sometimes.

It's difficult to see the picture you actually took instead of the one you thought you took sometimes.

Composition we can debate.

Exposure not as much.

Focus or sharpness not at all.

This is my final word on the subject. At my age life's too short.

NS New River Bridge
Posted September 26, 2013, by Bill Eichelberger

It kills me that you feel the need to publicly complain about a photo contribution that someone else has made to the site. I'm embarrassed for you, so don't feel like you need to bother. It's handled.

Calvin, keep firing away. Some of us appreciate the effort.

NS New River Bridge
Posted September 26, 2013, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

So using photos to demonstrate a point.

188104-L is a useful, worthwhile photo.

188105-L which was posted right after is a mess.

Take 188104-L and crop it to resemble 188105-L and you have a nice photo of what 188105-L was supposed to be, only better. This clear, sharp photo is 188104-LCS.

Why the photographer, after spending hours getting photos couldn't spend a few minutes getting the best images posted I'm not sure. Maybe there is a "story" in the blurry photos I missed. If I want to see the rivets and the pins and the bearings and pier I don't don't need to see 188105-L because that detail is blurred out because it's out of focus.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted September 25, 2013, by booniewalker (kentuckian2 [at] gmail [dot] com)

As my wife just commented, this is a fantastic bridge. We spent about 2 hours there and not one train came by. I thought it was the main line. There should have been at least one train in that time. Two would be more likely, for the main line. Don't understand why there was no train, unless something happened to delay them.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted September 25, 2013, by booniebees (booniebarb [at] yahoo [dot] com)

My husband and I drove to Tennessee from KY yesterday, to view this 'wonder' in person. I must say, you have great 'shots' posted that intrigued us to take this closer look!

So I wouldn't worry too much about a tinge of jealousy heard in some of the poster's comments about your photos...:-)

This bridge is a sight to see! The sheer magnitute of its size, and being under it and looking up, is one that will hold you in awe, as you are so small in comparison!! We were there for almost 2 hours, and the peacefulness of that area was awesome as well! We didn't get to see one train though. Slow day I guess...:-)

The only other area we have been, to see something close to this spectacular, is on the KY river under the "High Bridge" in Jessamine Co., built in 1877...

Thanks for your ejoyable website!

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted September 15, 2013, by Alex Wood

Thanks Calvin, this is a fantastic structure. Southern did quite a good job documenting this structure when it was opened. Its no surprise they seemed to consider it the hallmark of the 61-63 tunnel bypass program.


New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted June 2, 2013, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Great photos, Alex! Older pics are hard to come by, and these are fantastic.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted June 2, 2013, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Please tell me where the blurred pictures are, and I will gladly remove them.

Your comments would have been much more appreciated, had you sent them to me privately, instead of in a public conversation. My email is posted.

But I realize that today's generation would rather criticize publically.

BTW.. where might we sample some of your photos?

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted June 1, 2013, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Blurry, out of focus photos only have value if they photos of UFO's. Especially if you have in focus photos already.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted May 30, 2013, by Calvin Sneed (us43137415 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I'll address some of the comments about "too many photos."

I am not a "shutterbug." I am a photographer by nature.. each picture I take, tells a story focusing on a subject, whether by angle, by lighting, by positioning, or by George.. there is a reason that picture needs to be taken. The bigger the bridge, the more opportunity to show the sheer majestry of the structure.

I guess I'm not like most bridge photographers. I get up close and personal with each structure, to document the way it was built and the method by which it was built, right down to each rivet, each beam, each truss, everything perfectly measured and formed. I become one with the framework. They don't make bridges the way the bridges spotlighted on Bridgehunter.com are made, and that method is something to be preserved.

I also take lots of pictures because with the frequency of demolition, many of these old splendid giants are living on borrowed time. The more pictures logged, the more of a record of how elegantly it was made.

Oh yeah... I guess I could take 3 or 4 pictures of a bridge and be content with every bridge looking exactly like the next one downriver, but I think bridgehunter.com is more than just a superficial glance at bridges. I feel like it is a collection of what makes a classic bridge special, what endears it to the history of the area where it's located, and what makes it part of the fabric of the era that it was built.

I have been a member of bridgehunter.com for years, and the website has never had a limit to the number of pictures that anyone can post. Although I cannot speak for him, I have indeed spoken with Mr. Baughn several times, and I don't believe he intended to place a limit on the number of pictures. I found him to be an avid bridgehunter, often in awe of these magnificent structures, and very appreciative of the contributions that are made that capture the elegance and engineering of them.

BTW, several sets of bridge pictures that I have taken have been selected by the National Park Service, several bridge building companies, city governments and universities, for educational purposes. Also, several sets I have taken of bridges in use have highlighted problems within a particular bridge's makeup, and bridge owners have thanked me for pointing out repairs that need to be made, to preserve the bridges.

Thanks for your support, fellow bridgehunters.. On to the next one!

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted January 23, 2013, by Alex Wood

Seems folks are getting a little fussy about those 111 photos, so I'm going to post some in the comments section again for safe measure. ;)

I do note how someone asked for a little more detail about the shot's, so I will do my best! Hope you enjoy these.

Shot #1 is a rarely seen view of the New River viaduct. In beautiful mid-morning sunlight it is pictured spanning in gorge in all its beauty.

Shot #2 shows the beginnings of the bridge taking shape in 1962. This is the first pillar going up. Shot from the south looking north.

Shot #3 is from the cab of the northbound Royal Palm as the photographer leans out the window. The bridge has been open less than 24 hours at this point.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted December 4, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

I agree with Fmiser and Nathan. Especially on a structure like this, 109 photos is a good number. One good example is a bridge in Iowa that is being removed in Des Moines. That page contains 149 photos, several of which are mine. The difference is that captions really are needed, especially on a big bridge like this. I would really like to know what the angles are, and I think others would too for if they ever visit the bridge. Either way, nice looking bridge!

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted December 3, 2012, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

Ed Hollowell wrote, "'Shutter Bugs' please be a little bit selective, ok?"

Jayhawk replied, "The internet isn't a book - there's room for 112 photographs of each bridge here. In fact, I wish every bridge on this site was photographed in such detail."

Ed, I agree 109 photos is a lot of photos - but my complaint would be not the _quantity_ of photos but the lack of information about the photos. Of the 109, there is one that has a title or caption. One. That means for the other 108 we are left to guess the intent, subject, and content.

Question I often have are:

Which direction are we facing?

Which section of the bridge is this?

Why this picture? Does it show something that caught your eye?

I can get rather wordy as I fill out the fields because I find that kind of information so very helpful. So I would encourage all contributors to invest a few minutes to provide future visitor with at least some textual clues on the photos.

And I agree with Ed that being selective and not uploading every photo is probably a good plan. However, realize that not every visitor has the same interest or intent - like Jayhawk who said the very photos that bothered Ed were interesting to him. Here again, titles and/or captions could sure be helpful. *smiles*

So many of these old bridges are being removed. Once a bridge is gone, I'd rather have lots of near duplicates photos of a former bridge than just a few.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted December 3, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

My opinion is I would rather have too many photos than too few.

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted December 1, 2012, by jayhawk


As someone who does a fair amount of architectural photography, I disagree with you. I did not find any of the photos Calving posted to be extraneous or duplicates.

Photos 96, 95 and 94 are detail shots showing an interesting connection. One of the shots is blurry (it appears that Calvin also increased the ISO in order to increase the shutter speed using a long lens handheld but wasn't quite able to get it high enough), but it is showing an important connection that isn't detailed in any of the other photographs.

The internet isn't a book - there's room for 112 photographs of each bridge here. In fact, I wish every bridge on this site was photographed in such detail.


New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted December 1, 2012, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

To Calvin Sneed,

I'm not trying to to discourage you from posting photos, but the resources of the forum, as well as the patience of the users might be better served in the future if you picked through your photos and posted a more select collection of them. I understand that there is something to be said for making a full historical photo record but I seem to be looking really hard at some of the photos wondering "why did he think this one was worth posting?" and "is there something unique about this photo that I'm missing?" Finally I found myself wondering "Does he think there is a contest to see how many photos a user can post?" You posted 109 photos of this bridge and I think about 25 of the best of these 109 would have served better and gone much easier for the site servers. Also people are only going to actually look carefully at so many photos. Photos 96, 95 and 94 are all out of focus shots of things you already had better shots of.

I guess this is the result of digital cameras because if anyone had been paying for the film and processing the photos would have been taken more selectively.

You are not the only one post multiple, nearly identical photos on this site, so don't take it personal. 'Shutter Bugs' please be a little bit selective, ok?

New River Norfolk-Southern Bridge
Posted November 27, 2012, by Alex Wood (illinoiscentral8733 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I was out at the bridge in August and met some construction workers. They were resurfacing the pillars, taking 8 inches of concrete off the pillars and resurfacing. Ironically, the engineer I met said its one of the worst built structures he has worked on in a 30+ year career.

I've included some pictures to supplement the article.

The first is NS 177 entering onto the bridge.

Second is a desktop background I made in Adobe Photoshop a few months ago.

Third is shot directly under the structure.

Fourth is NS 797 crossing the bridge.