History In Brief

 
Plaque on bridge superstructure
 
Our guide Darryl at the mouth of the bridge

 

On the surface it looks like just
another hulking bridge among the 4
that cross the Mississippi River at
Memphis, Tennessee. Just another
one of many land-arteries connecting
Mid-America's Distribution Center to
the rest of the United States.

But, it's what's under the surface of
the Harahan Bridge that makes an
especially interesting and more
than slightly eerie story...

The Harahan Bridge is dedicated to
the president of the company that built
the bridge, Mr. J. T. Harahan, prominent
Memphis businessman. Originally
called the Rock Island Bridge, it was
renamed when Harahan was killed 4
years before completion of the project.
Cause of death? In a classic example
of truth being stranger than fiction, his

car was hit by an oncoming train.

The Harahan Bridge is so huge it took
3 steel companies working full throttle to
complete construction on schedule.
Many (23) lives were lost, as is usually
the case whenever man challenges
nature in such a big way.

Finished in 1916, it was the 2nd bridge
ever to span the river at Memphis, the
first being the
Frisco Bridge built in
1892, used for train traffic.

Now, more than 80 years later, dwarfed
by the
Hernando DeSoto Bridge slightly
upstream, the Harahan still stands strong
with its twin tracks hosting thousands of
trains yearly. End of story? Hardly!

There are many wonders and mysteries
surrounding the Harahan Bridge...

 

 
Superstructure - Memphis
 
Abandoned roadway and main trestle - Arkansas

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(c)1998-2007 by Steve Cox