Historic Bridges

James K. Polk Building, Suite 900
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0334

Cultural Resources Manager – TDOT Environmental Division

Historic Bridges

Historians with TDOT work extensively to identify, survey, and preserve historic bridges throughout the state. In the 1980s, TDOT began an intensive statewide survey of all vehicular bridges potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. In 2008, TDOT began a large-scale effort to inventory and write a management plan for historic bridges throughout the state of Tennessee. This update will be coming out in the near future.

Historic Bridge Marketing Program

In addition to the statewide survey, TDOT attempts to rehabilitate and preserve as many bridges as possible. Also, TDOT has a marketing program to advertise the availability of historic bridges for preservation in place or at new locations. This program identifies governments, agencies, parks, or historic groups that might be interested in preserving historic bridges. When a state-owned historic bridge is scheduled for replacement with Federal Highway Administration funding,  TDOT mails information to about 100 groups that might be interested in either preserving the bridge in place or adaptively reusing the structure on a new location. This marketing program has led to the successful preservation or adaptive reuse of many of Tennessee’s most unique bridges. Because of this intensive marketing campaign, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the U.S. Department of Transportation honored TDOT with an Outstanding Public Service to Transportation and Historic Preservation award.

TN Survey Report for Historic Highway Bridges

Historic Bridge Survey

Tennessee’s Survey Report for Historic Highway Bridges: Pre-1946 Masonry Arch, Timber Truss, Metal Truss, Concrete Arch, Metal Arch, and Suspension Bridges
The survey report uses historical context, narrative history, images, and drawings to explore bridge history in Tennessee, up to the end of World War II. It details TDOT's state-wide survey of vehicular metal truss, timber truss, masonry arch, concrete arch, metal arch, and suspension bridges that have been or are currently located on highways. The report discusses the survey's findings, including:

  • Historical context of road and bridge construction
  • Bridge companies that practiced in Tennessee
  • An engineering context and
  • Information on each bridge that has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places

Copies are available in book form at most library systems in Tennessee.

TN Toll Bridges, 1927-1947: A Context Study

Toll Bridge Study

Tennessee’s Toll Bridges, 1927-1947: A Context Study
Tennessee was one of the first states to take advantage of matching federal funds and built more toll bridges than any other state.  The State Highway Department built seventeen (17) toll bridges across Tennessee between 1927 and 1931, most of which spanned major rivers and greatly improved the state’s transportation system.   The state of Tennessee freed all of its toll bridges by 1947. Currently only two (2) of the truss bridges remain on the state highway system and both are scheduled for removal from the system in the near future.  The Marion Memorial Bridge will be demolished and the Kyles Ford Bridge will be left as a ruin.

Tennessee’s Toll Bridges, 1927-1947 provides a regional and national context for Tennessee’s program along with an extensive history and photographs of each of the toll bridges.