Park Education Specialist, Bob Flippen, will take visitors on a special hike
"down under" High Bridge on dates in April and May
The iconic High Bridge in High Bridge Trail State Park is most often viewed by visitors walking across the bridge.
High Bridge is more than 2,400 feet long and 125 feet above the Appomattox River. It is the longest recreational bridge in Virginia and among the longest in the United States. The original High Bridge was completed and open for service on January 1, 1854. Considered an engineering marvel it featured twenty piers containing almost four million bricks supporting a wooden superstructure with a pedestrian walkway beside the rail line, along with an adjacent wagon bridge (known also as the lower wagon bridge). The wagon bridge would ultimately play a pivotal role in the outcome of the Civil War. At its completion, Chief Engineer, C.O. Sanford stated that "there have been higher bridges not so long, and longer bridges not so high, but taking the length and height together, this is, perhaps the largest bridge in the world."
The original High Bridge from an 1858 lithograph by German artist Edward Beyer
The original wooden superstructure of High Bridge was replaced with a steel Fink truss in 1869 and then again in 1886 with a Pratt deck truss. Because of the vibration from longer and heavier trains, the brick piers began to deteriorate as cracks developed. In 1914, the Norfolk & Western Railway built an entirely new bridge parallel to the first, 8 feet higher and slightly longer than its predecessor, to support the heavier traffic.
View of the bridge structure from above – newer steel and original brick still visible
From underneath the bridge
The program includes a guided walk across the bridge with stops to discuss the bridge's history and construction along with the events of the battles at High Bridge along with a view of one of the earthen fort redoubts. Participants will then descend the access trail to visit the area under the Bridgewhere the most significant actionsduring the American Civil War's Second Battle for High Bridge occurred. Despite a valiant effort by Confederate troops, the Federal II Corps was able to cross the Appomattox on April 7, 1865, unraveling Lee's strategy of using the Appomattox River to separate the two armies.
This unique program will be offered on the following dates in April and May 2015:
April 19 at 2:00 p.m.
April 25 at 1:30 p.m.
May 16 at 1:30 p.m.
May 23 at 1:30 p.m.
May 24 at 2:00 p.m.
May 25 at 1:30 p.m.
The program begins on the Cumberland County of the bridge (nearest the River Road parking lot) at those times. Be sure to allow at least a half hour to walk the 1 mile from the River Road parking lot to the bridge. The total round tripdistance of the program will bearound 4 miles and part of the trail is steep. Be sure to bring plenty of water and wear closed toe shoes.Long pants are recommended. Treat your clothes and hat with bug spray.
High Bridge Trail State Park and join Bob down under High Bridge.