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BO - Harper Ferry Bridge


Historic Photograph of the B&O Railroad Ruins at Harpers Ferry

Just about a quarter of a century into its existence and two months after the Civil War started the B&O Railroad bridge into Harpers Ferry was burned down with only the stone piers remaining. The B&O replaced the wooden structure with "Bollman" iron spans which later were destroyed.

Harpers Ferry National Park Service

View this photo at nps.gov

BH Photo #282274

Street View 


FROM NATIONAL PARK SERVICE The Baltimore & Ohio (B & O) railroad bridge was once a majestic wood covered bridge that spanned the Potomac River and carried train traffic on the B & O Railroad for 23 years prior to the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1859, John Brown, a staunch abolitionist, launched a raid across this bridge to capture the United States Armory and start a war to end slavery. Brown failed at his attempt but made a major impact on the Harpers Ferry area. With the secession of Virginia in April, 1861, the bridge became a tenuous connector between the Confederacy and the Union. The bridge was over an important border, the Potomac River, and constantly had to worry about attacks from both sides of the war. During four years of Civil War, the bridge would be built and destroyed nine times - four times by war, five times by floods.

FROM NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES - NOMINATION FORM: After 1839 this bridge incorporated its unique "Y" spans to accommodate the Valley Branch of the railroad as it left the main line.


Lost Through truss bridge over Potomac River on Former B&O
Harpers Ferry, Jefferson County, West Virginia, and Washington County, Maryland
Destroyed by disaster
Built in 1836; Burned 1861, 2 months after the start of the Civil War
- Benjamin Henry Latrobe II of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Designer)
- Louis Wernwag of Reutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Wood covered wood truss bridge with six river spans and a span over the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal
Total length: 830.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 14, 1978
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.32343, -77.72764   (decimal degrees)
39°19'24" N, 77°43'40" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
18/264870/4356216 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Harpers Ferry
Inventory numbers
NRHP 78001484 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
WGCB 48-19-01x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
WGCB 20-21-01x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
BH 60731 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 27, 2019: New photos from Josh Schmid
  • December 29, 2016: New photos from Mike Piontka
  • August 28, 2016: New photos from Steve Conro
  • January 15, 2015: New Street View added by Luke
  • April 20, 2014: Updated by Jodi Christman: Added category "Potomac River"

Related Bridges 


  • Jodi Christman - masterofchaos [at] outlook [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Mike Piontka
  • Josh Schmid