100th Anniversary Commemoration Of The Chief John Ross Bridge Set For Oct. 3

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Chief John Ross Chapter, NSDAR along with the City of Chattanooga and Hamilton County Government will commemorate the construction of the Chief John Ross Bridge at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 3, in a public ceremony. The brief ceremony will be held at the south end of the bridge, often referred to as the Market Street bridge. Oct. 3 also commemorates the 227th birthday of Chief John Ross,  the Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation from 1828–1866, serving longer in this position than any other person.

The Chief John Ross Bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Paul Archambault, former historian for the Southeast Tennessee Development District, noted in the nomination that the Chief John Ross Bridge “represents a rare engineering marvel in the Southeast United States region. At 310 feet, the double-leaf steel bascule lift was the largest span of its kind in the world when the bridge opened for traffic. The six concrete arches also made it the largest concrete bridge in the South at that time."

The bridge was built after it became evident that the horse and carriage Walnut Street Bridge, erected in 1891 and now a Chattanooga treasure used as a pedestrian bridge, could not handle the growing volume of automobiles.

Construction of the bridge took three years with two crews working on either side of the river, mixing and delivering 20-gallon buckets of concrete via cable lines supported by two 200-foot steel towers, one on each bank. Severe flooding in 1915 and 1916 caused delays and costs overruns, with one of the six arches in the partially finished bridge being swept away in a 28-foot flood during December 1915. In the end, the bridge, budgeted at $500,000, cost $1.1 million.

For additional information, contact Chief John Ross Chapter Regent, Jessica Dumitru at jmdumitru@gmail.com

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