Chesapeake and Ohio Bridge

Chesapeake and Ohio Bridge


The C&O Bridge was built over the Ohio River in 1888.

By Jim Reis, reprinted here with his permission from Pieces of the Past Volume 1, page 232

It was originally planned in the early 1880s by the Chesapeake and Ohio and Kentucky Central railroads to link northern and southern markets.  A story in the October 5, 1881 Covington Daily Commonwealth said plans were being drawn for a railroad bridge with foot and vehicle pathways.  The Covington end was to be at the foot of Johnson Street and the Cincinnati end at the foot of Elm Street.

By the time construction began in October 1886, the plans were scaled back to include a railroad bridge.  To construct the bridge piers, engineers used caissons-a new work process involving wooden boxes 35 feet by 82 feet and weighing 700 tons.  The caissons which were open on one end, were lowered into the water.  Air was pumped into them to keep the water out.  Men worked inside them, digging into the river bottom.  The dug about 60 feet before reaching the bedrock on which the piers were anchored.

The bridge was completed in October 1888, and train traffic began to use it Christmas Day.  In the 1920s a second trestle was constructed adjacent to the original bridge.  The railroad moved its tracks to the newer span.  The older section was purchased by the state and a highway deck constructed.  The bridge then opened to vehicular traffic.

The 520 foot vehicular bridge operated until 1970 when it was demolished and replaced a few years later by the
Clay Wade Bailey Bridge.

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