Thursday, August 6, 2020

Major Loss: Beautiful 1903 Steel Arch Bridge over Jackson Road, Vicksburg, Mississippi

Old-timers remember when Confederate Avenue in the Vicksburg National Military Park crossed Jackson Road on a steel arch bridge. It was a beautiful example of early-20th century engineering - light, airy, and strong. I posted low-resolution contact sheet scans before, but as part of my National Park project, I scanned these 2002 negatives individually at 2400 dpi. In the 1980s, pedestrians could still cross the old bridge, but traffic was routed on a modern concrete bridge.

Photographers from the Library of Congress photographed the bridge as part of the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record/Historic American Landscapes Survey. According to the Library of Congress:
-  Significance: The steel arch bridge on Confederate Avenue in Vicksburg National Military Park is significant for its design. It is the only extant steel arch bridge in the State of Mississippi. The structure was included among a number of the state's historic bridges nominated for the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
-  Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N479
-  Survey number: HAER MS-12
-  Building/structure dates: 1903 Initial Construction
Look at the last photograph; you can see how a footing has been displaced and has tipped over. But the bridge is still standing, held up by three footings. The structure was not weak. Workmen from Riverside Construction of Vicksburg pulled down the span using a bulldozer and dump trucks on June 20, 2002. They cut up the steel and took it away for recycling.

This is how we lose our architectural and engineering heritage: no one cares, and boneheaded authorities take the cheap and easy way out. For shame.
This is a footing on the north side of the road.

These frames are from Kodak Tri-X Professional film exposed with a Tachihara 4×5 inch wood camera with 75mm ƒ/8 Schneider Super-Angulon or 180mm ƒ/5.6 Caltar IIN lenses. I scanned the negatives with an Epson 3200 Photo scanner and touched up dust or chemical blobs with Photoshop CS5.


Mike said...

Sad indeed. A very graceful structure.

Kodachromeguy said...

It was a beautiful bridge. In the late 1980s, it was open to pedestrian traffic, and it was fun to walk over a historical structure.