The King's Bridge 1872-1913

Forgotten Bridge

Sometimes, a photograph reminds us just how much of the past has been forgotten. This small 4¼" x 4¼" glass plate negative of a distant bridge bedeviled me.
Where, and when, was this bridge?

The first clue came from avid ‘bridge hunter’ Calvin Sneed, who immediately identified it as ‘bowstring truss bridge’, as well as a possible location in Lincoln County, TN where he had documented one of the last surviving bridges of that type – complete with a photo of the manufacturer plate of Cleveland, OH. The photos were convincing, but I could find no connection to the likely photographer and that location, over 125 miles to the west of Chattanooga.

The mystery remained.

King's Bridge (Neg. 79c)

Amateur photos to the rescue


The same type of bridge also appeared in a photo in the Chattanooga Public Library in the Arthur G. Stivers family album, acquired by a prolific Chattanooga historic photo collector – Paul A. Hiener. The photo was surrounded by other Chattanooga views, including the Lightfoot and unidentified water mills.

This further suggested that this type of bridge existed in Chattanooga’s past, and could have been on the South Chickamauga Creek near Lightfoot Mill. Many unidentified mill photos appear in the Chattanooga Glass Plate collection – as well as images of Bird's Mill, also on the South Chick.

1872 ‘Buy local’ rant provided clues

Digitized historic newspapers provided the key clues in an 1872 opinion editorial by ‘H. N. Snyder’, who complained in great detail about recently completed bridge not being made in Chattanooga, but instead by a company in Canton, OH. The bridge in the article was referred to as the King’s Bridge.

Further research revealed the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in that city sold a ‘column and channel iron arch bridge’, which was a slight improvement over the bowstring design, adding tension rods to stiffen the span.

The bridge in the article was referred to as the King’s Bridge.

A few days ago was celebrated the completion of the King's Bridge. The structure is a credit to the county, and the inauguration of its use was a pleasant occasion. With symetrical parts and a graceful curve it spans the stream, "a thing of beauty," and we trust it may remain "a joy forever." But not withstanding the aesthetic feelings that structure awakened, and the convivialities enjoyed on the occasion of its completion, there was mingled with all a regret which still lingers in our mind. We regret that the bridge was not manufactured in Chattanooga.
H. N. Snyder 11 Dec. 1872 - Nashville Union and American

11 Dec. 1872

Shadow of Bridge (Neg. 80c)

Daydreaming (Neg. 77c)

In an April 30th, 1886 story in the Chattanooga Commercial newspaper – it was reported that the King’s Bridge over the Chickamauga Creek was seriously damaged by the flood – and that a local judge proposed moving the location, but was opposed by the residents of Kings Point.

Another article mentioned eye-witness accounts of the bridge being covered by 5 feet of water during the 1886 flood.

Washed out in 1917

The next major flood would see the end of the King’s Bridge.

The Harrison Pike Bridge, 150 ft. long, is the largest bridge washed out
Good Roads April 7, 1917
Old Boyce centered around the junction of Harrison Pike with the Western & Atlantic Railroad just west of the Chickamauga River before the Civil War. It hosted a depot, a mill, stores, and rivaled nearby Chickamauga in size and prestige. When Boyce Station was rebuilt after the war, it was nearly four-and-a-half miles down the line toward Chattanooga. Later the Western & Atlantic Railroad built King’s Bridge Station near the same place, named for the bridge on the Harrison Pike replacing Sivley Ford.
Chuck Hamilton - January 12, 2017

LINK:View from S. Chickamauga Creek Source: Google View

Original stone support under Harrison Pike Bridge (Photo by Sam Hall)

Source: Google