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High Bridge Collection,1876-1877

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Processed by: Staff, Jason Flahardy, and Lindy Melvin; machine-readable finding aid created by:Tom Enneking and Eric Weig


High Bridge Collection




University of Kentucky Libraries, Special Collections

Lexington, Kentucky 40506

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open to researchers by appointment.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], High Bridge Collection, 78PA107,Special Collections, University of Kentucky.


.5 cu. ft. (1 box): 8 items


James A. Mullen photographed the construction of High Bridge between 1876-1877 probably for his lithographic volume of views along the Cincinnati Southern Railway. Mr. Mullen was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, February 14, 1834 and at seventeen he studied daguerreotyping under E.C. Hawkins and later on he learned new photographing techniques under Thomas Faris. In 1864 after serving as a photographer in the Engineer Corps, Mullen settle in Lexington, KY where he opened a Magonolia Gallery. In 1880s-1890s Mr. Mullen's work became recognized nationally and won several awards. He died at age 90 at his daughter's, Mrs. Frank Baker, home in Los Angeles.

Located over the Kentucky River, High Bridge was once the highest bridge in North America and the highest railroad bridge in the world. A bridge was begun in the 1850s for the Lexington and Danville Railroad. It was to be a suspension bridge, designed by John A. Roebling, but was never completed. (The towers for the suspension cables were built and remained until 1929.) A bridge of cantilever design was finally opened in 1877 on the Cincinnati Southern Railway, 275 feet tall and 1,125 feet long, and dedicated by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. A new bridge was built around the existing structure in 1911 and expanded to two tracks in 1929.

Scope and Content

The collection consists of a series of seven views of High Bridge (also known as the Kentucky River Bridge or the Cincinnati Southern Railway Bridge) photographed by James Mullen during various stages of its construction in 1876-1877. The photographs are captioned and provide information on the construction company and bridge specifications. The photograhic process of the prints is albumen .

Also included in the collection is a photograph of the Clay's Ferry Bridge taken by Charles Waldack.


  • Bridges--KY--History--Pictorial Works
  • Historic Bridges
  • Bridges, Cantilever
  • Bridges--Design and Construction
  • Kentucky River (KY)--Bridges

User Restrictions

Copyright has not been assigned ot the University of Kentucky.

Related Material

Curry, Howard. Lexington, KY: Feedback Printing, 1983

Hall, Charles G. Cincinnati, OH: McDonald Press, 1902.

Young, Bennett H. Lousiville, KY: Courier-Journal Job Printing Co., 1989.

, 80PA121, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.

, 81PA101, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.

Collection Inventory

Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Railway; shows completed span, undated
[Box: 1, item: 1] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No 2, shows half of Span No. 1, just before reaching temporary wooden pier, 1876-10-25
[Box: 1, item: 2] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No 3, shows half of Span No. 1 just before reaching temporary pier, and also shows north and south piers, undated
[Box: 1, item: 3] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No 4, shows Span No. 1 (375 ft in length) just before reaching Pier No, 1876-11-14
[Box: 1, item: 4] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No. 6, shows part of Span No. 3 (south side), Pier No. 2 and temporary pier; also part of Span No.2 (north side), 1877-01-21
[Box: 1, item: 5] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No. 7, shows first half of bridge complete, undated
[Box: 1, item: 6] browse
Kentucky River Bridge, Cincinnati Southern Railway; View No. 9, shows portion of Span 3, both piers and portion of center span, 1877-01-22
[Box: 1, item: 7] browse
Clay's Ferry Bridge, undated
[Box: 1, item: 8] browse

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