Day 10: Walnut Street Bridge – Chattanooga

by Jeff

What a wonderful legacy to the heartbeat of Chattanooga

Walnut Street Bridge from the Hunter

Walnut Street Bridge from the Hunter - ChattanoogaAndBeyond.com

This pedestrian jewel, The Walnut Street Bridge is the oldest and largest surviving truss bridge in the South and was the first such multi-use structure built across the Tennessee River.

Early in the morning, I could smell the new decking

I could smell the new decking

The Bridge was condemned and destined for demolition when the citizens of Chattanooga convinced the city  to commit the funds earmarked for the bridge’s demolition to its restoration. The restoration was dependent on raising the balance of funds needed. How fortunate we are now enjoying the vision of Chattanoogans!

The north side from Coolidge

The north side from Coolidge - ChattanoogaAndBeyond.com

The Walnut Street Bridge continues to be one of Chattanooga’s most visited attractions, and provides a gathering place for residents and visitors to enjoy events, entertainment and recreation.  It serves as the pedestrian link between downtown Chattanooga and the now thriving Northshore District.

Joggers, walkers, visitors and residents alike use the bridge daily as it measures the seasons.

View from Coolidge

View from Coolidge

In the winter, the bridge is a centerpiece in the “Grand Illumination” of downtown Chattanooga with snowflakes that travel across the river and back.

Patrice and I walk it regularly and today have come here to drop of Jake and Priscilla at the south side (downtown side) of the bridge for an afternoon in North Chattt. This is a first for them, Jake is on R&R from his tour in Iraq and his wife Priscilla is visiting from their home in El Paso.

View of the Delta Queen from Walnut Street Bridge

View of the Delta Queen from Walnut Street Bridge - P. Hume

The bridge was completed in 1891 and as a large landmark structure, this is likely the largest remaining monument to the skill and capabilities of the Smith Bridge Company, a prolific late 19th century bridge company. As a Pennsylvania truss, it utilizes one of the most visually impressive, intricate truss configurations.

Visitors enjoying the walk from the bridge to the Aquarium

Visitors enjoying the walk from the bridge to the Aquarium - ChattanoogaAndBeyond.com

The approach system at the northern end of the bridge, supported by complex wrought iron bents, is not to be overlooked either, nor are the very tall stone piers. All of this is topped off with an ornate portal bracing, which also features a large plaque made up of smaller Smith Bridge Company style plaques that resemble individual plaques found on smaller through truss bridges built by the company.

The north side of the bridge will bring you directly over Coolidge Park and the shopping & dining that the Northshore district has to offer.

The stairs up to the glass pedestrian bridge to the Hunter Museum

The stairs up to the glass pedestrian bridge to the Hunter Museum

The south side will bring you to the glass bridge to the Hunter Museum or a short walk down to the Tennessee Aquarium.

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