The Big Four Bridge- Louisville, KY




The original/first Big Four Bridge had a pedestrian walk-way on the west (downriver side). It was opened in 1895 and in use till 1929 when a newly constructed replacement bridge using the same bridge piers replaced it. Everything old is new again- the pedestrian usage is an idea that was put into effect over 100 years ago.


The viaducts or high trestle elevated structures of the Big Four Bridge stretched out for a little over three miles and in three different directions. On the Kentucky side one arm split off crossing over the current skate park and toward Louisville’s Baseball Park-this formerly housed the big four rail freight terminal. The rail touched down just east of the expressway at Hancock Street.


The other split, the lengthier of the two, crossed over dozens of streets with another access ramp at Franklin and Wenzel Streets. It continued airborne for many more blocks until finally touching down at East Main Street and Mellwood Avenue (east of the Old Bourbon Stockyards).

On the Indiana side the elevated structure continued northward with
the exception of the access ramp immediately after crossing the bridge which touched earth about four blocks later.The elevated structure carried on for another 3/4 of a mile northward finally coming to rest just west of The Quartermaster Depot.

Louisville’s elevated trains ran day and night over many homes and businesses They carried all manner of goods, merchandise, passengers, and daily commuters, all of which created a scenario more likened to Chicago or New York.

A high speed lightweight electric train of the Indiana RR crosses the Big Four Bridge some time in the 1930’s. The last electric trains crossed this bridge in October 1939, while electric trains continued on the K&I Bridge until the eve of 1946.

One organized outing by the 4-H clubs in and around Columbus, Indiana chartered three trains, each consisting of 3 cars cars each for a trip into Louisville in September of 1939. The 800 or so farm kids and their escorts then took a river cruise and returned the same day.

Electric trains survived in Louisville until the eve of 1946. The above newspaper advertisement is cira of 1941. Electric rapid transit was a smart, swift and a thrifty buy for either group or individual travel.

All information contributed by Ron Schooling- Thanks!

Fire On The Big Four Bridge-Louisville Ky



Big Four Bridge as seen from the Louisville Wharf

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP/WHAS11) — The fire burning on the abandoned Big Four railroad bridge is now out after burning for hours Wednesday.

Louisville fire officials and Waterfront Development Corp. officials say they don’t know the extent of the fire, which broke out shortly after noon.

The Coast Guard shut down river traffic for about a mile around the bridge because debris was falling off the aging bridge and it’s keeping watercraft away.

The railroad bridge is being turned into a pedestrian walkway connecting Louisville and southern Indiana. The span was completed in 1895 and abandoned in 1969.

Louisville firefighters climbed an 80-foot aerial ladder at the southern end of the bridge to fight the fire, and some Jeffersonville firefighters got on the bridge to assist.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Slide Show of Fire from WHAS

Fire On Big Four Railroad Bridge

Present Day

Pictures of the burned bridge below:

K&I Bridge

Click on the link to learn more about another Louisville bridge

Kentucky and Indiana Bridge (K&I Bridge)


Construction on the bridge began in August 1910 and was completed in November 1912.It cost over $2 million dollars. It was one of the heaviest and largest plain truss bridges on earth.

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(In this vintage postcard you can see the K&I Bridge)

It was primarily designed to carry railroad traffic and is is 70 feet wide

It has wagon ways on each side. These were paved with heavy creosoted wood blocks and were intended primarily to accommodate horse and wagon traffic…which used the bridge on a toll basis. Cars and trucks replayed horse drawn vehicles.

Today…

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The creosote paving blocks remained until 1952 they were replaced by steel grid work.

February 1979- a section of the roadbed broke under the weight of an overloaded gravel truck. Traffic has been closed since to any cars or trucks.

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