Some notes on Walnut Street Bridge on her 125th Birthday

1. Today is the 125th Birthday. It was designed by a Toledo, Ohio company, with many of the pieces built in Dalton Georgia and sent here by train.

2. The bridge was the first purely civilian highway bridge across the Tennessee River. It is among the longest pedestrian bridges in the world.

3. We nearly lost it. Vehicles stopped traveling the former asphalt surface of the Walnut Street Bridge in 1978, leaving the bridge’s future unknown and setting up a decade of the bridge sitting as a derelict relic. But we fell back in love with our famous bridge, ultimately securing its future for generations to come. Over a six month period beginning in 2009, the wood planking we now enjoy was installed.

3. It is involved in the only criminal trial ever held by the U.S. Supreme Court. 110 years ago, in 1906, the Hamilton County sheriff failed to protect a prisoner, allowing him to be lynched on the bridge. Sheriff Joseph Shipp was tried by the Department of Justice in the U.S. Supreme Court’s sole, historic criminal trial. Shipp was sent to prison.

4. On a scale of 1-10 in terms of historic significance rating, the group Historic Bridges rates the Walnut Street Bridge a 9.

5. Taking a stroll across the bridge and back, 2375 feet in each direction, gives you a nice walk of 9/10th of a mile.

Rich with engineering, effort, attractiveness as a landmark and usefulness for hundreds of thousands of walkers, runners and bikers, the Walnut Street Bridge is infused with history, and unfortunate reminders of where we’ve been as a people.

We present to you our friend of 125 years today, the Walnut Street Bridge