Road trips

The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

Bridge technology has existed since ancient times, but no bridge could span wide gaps until the suspension bridge was invented in the early 1800s. Even then, the technology had to be refined and improved before it could span a gap as wide as the Ohio River. And so it wasn’t until 1851 that the first bridge across that great waterway was built: the suspension bridge at Wheeling, WV. Following it in 1866 was the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Cincinnati. Like the Wheeling bridge, it still serves.

Roebling Bridge

It was, as its name suggests, designed and built by famed suspension-bridge designer and builder John Roebling. Except that’s not the whole story.

Roebling Bridge

In 1894 the bridge’s owners paid William Hildenbrand to significantly rework the bridge. Retaining the original towers and cables, he replaced Roebling’s deck with a new, wider, metal deck, and added new steel cables to bear its weight. Work completed in 1898 without ever closing the bridge to traffic.

Roebling Bridge

And it turns out to be wrong to say this bridge is in Cincinnati. Only its north approach is. The rest of it — indeed, most of the Ohio River itself — is in Kentucky. So this is the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge of Covington, KY. That’s where we went to photograph this bridge, by the way. Memo to leaders in Covington: It’s too hard to park in your city thanks to the old-fashioned coin parking meters. Who carries change anymore?

Roebling Bridge

Garrett and I didn’t linger long on the bridge — it was 40 degrees with strong winds. Our hands and ears quickly grew cold. We walked out partway onto the pedestrian deck long enough to get some photos, including these above and below.

Roebling Bridge

When our hands and ears couldn’t take it anymore, we headed back to the car. But it was good to experience this bridge even for a few moments.


Other suspension bridges I’ve visited: Wheeling, Brooklyn, and — are you ready for this? — Carlyle, Illinois.

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8 thoughts on “The John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge

  1. Michael McNeill says:

    When you wrote it was 40 degrees I was thinking Wow, that’s hot for this time of year! Then I read on…

    Like

  2. DougD says:

    Wow, that a very busy design. All that additional trusswork above the deck, they must have been raised (and complicated) to permit higher trucks to go through.

    And all those hot driven rivets! They don’t make them like they used to.

    Like

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