High Bridge Park is located in the small town of Wilmore, Kentucky. Wilmore is well known for Asbury University, which also hosts The Highbridge Film Festival on campus each year. The actual “high bridge” is historical in that it was the first cantilever bridge built on the American continent.
Built in 1876, it marked the beginning of modern scientific bridge building. When it was built, it was the highest railroad trestle in the world. The bridge was dedicated by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. It was designated an engineering landmark in 1986 and a model of the bridge can be seen in the History Museum of the Smithsonian Institute.
After the Civil War, a north-south railroad was important. Designer Charles Shaler Smith had been an engineering officer in the Confederate army and had become well known as an important American engineer. His idea for a cantilever bridge helped solve the problem of the deep gorge of the Kentucky River. (Worldtimezone.com)
The bridge began to draw a large number of tourists so a park was established near the bridge. It became a hot spot for tourists as trainloads of people would visit High Bridge. There were, at the time, stables, a restaurant and a dance hall. Important political speakers came to the park and religious meetings were held here. Billy Sunday is known to have preached at High Bridge Park. There was a pavilion with a Victorian design which has been rebuilt.
The current pavilion upon entering the park is built almost identical to the plans of the original. A gazebo sits on the grounds at the park as well and uses roofing boards from the original.
At the park entrance sits a caboose from the Southern railroad. As I took this picture, I heard a train coming so I rushed back to the overlook to the Bridge to see the train crossing! I was so excited that I was there to see the train as it crossed!
The train crosses the Kentucky River in Wilmore, Kentucky.
A closer view of the bridge
In 1911, the bridge was rebuilt due to heavy railroad traffic. The bridge used the same footings as the original. The train deck was raised about 30 feet so that railroad traffic could continue during the rebuild and in 1929, the track was expanded to two. There is no longer a station that brings in passengers to visit as they did decades ago. Several historical photos are archived of days past.
One very interesting fact about this bridge- originally, Roebling, who designed the Brooklyn Bridge, designed a suspension bridge for this spot, but it was never completed.
Apparently, Russ, Joseph, and Chris have been here.
This bridge is pretty remarkable when you see it. I'm really glad I took the time to visit it this Fall. The newer additions of Highbridge Park make this a nice place to picnic or visit the bridge viewing platform.
Information given about the bridge was taken from the following website: Worldtimezone.com