Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Historic Bridge Awareness Month

By Joann M. Ringelstetter

I just discovered that November is Historic Bridge Awareness Month. So, I decided that before the month is over, I would sneak in a blog post about the beautiful and historical John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

The Roebling Suspension Bridge spans the Ohio River, connecting Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky. When it opened to traffic on January 1, 1867, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It held this title until 1883 when it was surpassed by the Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling’s most famous project.

The Roebling Suspension Bridge is impressive in its design and several new bridge-building techniques were used in its construction. The two main cables each contain 5,180 individual wires imported from England. It is an engineering wonder, but the thing that impresses me the most is that it is now over 150 years old and is still serving these two neighboring cities. It is a National Historic Landmark, a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

There were many challenges that had to be overcome in the building of this bridge. Although the first charter had been granted by the Kentucky Legislature in 1846, the Ohio Legislature delayed approval due to opposition from ferryboat and steamboat companies. And some people were concerned that the bridge would facilitate the escape of slaves. Construction finally began in 1856 but was held up by challenges from the force of the river, a shortage of funds for materials, flooding, and the Civil War.

In 1867 when the bridge finally opened to traffic, the driver of a horse and buggy was charged a toll of 15 cents to cross; the toll for three horses and a carriage was 25 cents. Pedestrians were charged one cent. Tolls changed over the years and were collected until 1963. Although there are numerous bridges along this waterfront today, the Roebling Bridge continues to carry many vehicles and pedestrians daily.

When we visited Cincinnati in April 2016, it was worth it to get up in the dark and drive down to Smale Riverfront Park to see this beautiful bridge lit up against the dawn’s blue sky.

Happy Historic Bridge Awareness Month and Happy Shunpiking!

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  1. Thanks for the interesting info on the Roebling Suspension Bridge. Had no idea it was so well-built, and so long ago!

  2. What a wonderful bridge! Thanks for the story. :)

    1. You're welcome! If you're ever in the Cincinnati area, be sure to visit this bridge when it's lit up. It's beautiful!

  3. Thanks for the comment, Jean. It's such a beautiful bridge, especially lit up in the early dawn hours. I'm so glad that these communities had the foresight to keep this historic bridge in such good condition.