Tennessee boasts notable attractions such as the renowned Grand Ole Opry, the charming town of Gatlinburg, and the breathtaking Smoky Mountains. The state is always buzzing with activities, offering endless adventures and soul-stirring destinations. As you venture out to explore these treasures, you will inevitably encounter some of Tennessee’s most remarkable and historically significant bridges, as well as a few that have seen better days. If you find yourself in the vicinity, take a moment to appreciate the bridges highlighted in this article. Join us as we embark on a journey across some of the longest bridges in the beautiful state of Tennessee!
8. Henley Bridge – 1,793 Feet Long
This Article Includes
- 1 8. Henley Bridge – 1,793 Feet Long
- 2 7. Chief John Ross Bridge – 1,894.5 Feet Long
- 3 6. Victory Memorial Bridge – 1,900
- 4 5. Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge – 2,376 Feet Long
- 5 4. John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – 3,150 Feet Long
- 6 3. Harahan Bridge – 4,972 Feet Long
- 7 2. Frisco Bridge – 4,988 Feet Long
- 8 1. Memphis and Arkansas Bridge – 5,222 Feet Long
The Henley Street Bridge in Knoxville, TN spans across the Tennessee River. Its construction dates back to 1931 and it is named after Colonel David Henley, a notable Revolutionary War officer stationed in Knoxville during the 1790s. This bridge is one of the four vehicular bridges that connect downtown Knoxville to the other side of the Tennessee River. Made of reinforced concrete, it features six double-ribbed arches with lateral bracing, creating a distinct open-spandrel arch design.
The design of the bridge was proposed in the early 1920s, but there was extensive debate over its size and various other aspects, causing significant delays in its construction.
7. Chief John Ross Bridge – 1,894.5 Feet Long
The Chief John Ross Bridge, also known as the Market Street Bridge, is a bascule bridge that crosses the Tennessee River, connecting downtown Chattanooga to the Northshore District. Standing at a height of approximately 70 feet above the water line, the bridge was named after Chief John Ross, a respected Cherokee Indian leader. Its construction was completed in 1917, requiring a substantial investment of $1.1 million at the time. During the 1930s, the bridge was primarily used by streetcars, but this changed over time. In 1950, it was officially designated as the Chief John Ross Bridge.
6. Victory Memorial Bridge – 1,900
The Victory Memorial Bridge in Nashville serves as a connection between the central business district and public markets on Cumberland Street and Main Street. This unassuming vehicular bridge is constructed with a combination of modern steel and stone, and it was originally dedicated to honor both World War II and the Korean War. Its official inauguration took place in May 1956, coinciding with the celebration of Armed Forces Day in Nashville.
5. Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge – 2,376 Feet Long
The Walnut Street Pedestrian Bridge, built in 1891, holds a special place in the hearts of locals. As the oldest non-military bridge in the state, it continues to serve its purpose to this day. Spanning across the North Shore and the Bluff View Arts District, it connects prominent attractions such as the Hunter Museum of American Art, the Riverwalk, and the aquarium. Despite facing closure in 1978 due to safety concerns, the bridge was saved from demolition by the collective efforts of the city’s residents. Recognizing its potential to revitalize the deteriorating downtown area, the community raised funds, and in 1993, the bridge was reopened, bringing joy to the public once again.
4. John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge – 3,150 Feet Long
The Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, now known as the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge, was originally constructed as a vehicle bridge in 1909. This magnificent concrete arched truss bridge stretches across the Cumberland River in Nashville. However, in 1998, the decision was made to close the bridge to vehicle traffic and consider demolishing it. Fortunately, its historical significance, distinctive design, and popularity saved it from destruction. Instead, the bridge underwent extensive renovations and was transformed into a pedestrian bridge. To accommodate pedestrians of all abilities, a stairway, elevator, and ramps were added. At night, the bridge illuminates the Chattanooga skyline, adding to its beauty and charm.
3. Harahan Bridge – 4,972 Feet Long
The Harahan Pedestrian Bridge is an impressive example of Tennessee’s commitment to repurposing old bridges. Instead of being demolished, this massive cantilevered through truss bridge was converted into a pedestrian bridge, along with two rail lines. It spans the Mississippi River, connecting West Memphis, AR, to Memphis, TN.
The bridge was originally designed to accommodate both railroad traffic on the truss lines and highway traffic on the cantilevered decks outside of the truss lines. Today, while the top still serves as a railroad line, the bottom has been transformed into a pedestrian bridge, giving it a truly distinctive and historic character. Interestingly, this bridge is situated alongside two other historic bridges, making it the only location in the country where three historic bridges are found in such close proximity.
2. Frisco Bridge – 4,988 Feet Long
In the photo, you can see the Harahan Bridge, the Frisco Bridge, and the Memphis-Arkansas Bridge from left to right. The Frisco Bridge, built in 1892, is another bridge that has undergone extensive refurbishment to prevent its demolition. In 2016, the bridge underwent upgrades that caused some frustration among historians due to the alterations made. This large-scale cantilever truss bridge has a rich history as a railroad bridge and continues to be actively used today.
1. Memphis and Arkansas Bridge – 5,222 Feet Long
The Memphis and Arkansas Bridge, the third historic bridge in our lineup, stands out for its impressive length. Unlike the other two bridges, this one was constructed much later, in 1949. Spanning the Mississippi River, it serves as a cantilever truss bridge, facilitating vehicular traffic—an advantage not shared by its counterparts. The primary purpose of its construction was to restore the ability for vehicles to cross the river in this area, just as they could in the past. Moreover, the bridge features pedestrian sidewalks on both sides. Fortunately, the Memphis and Arkansas Bridge remains in excellent condition and has not required any repairs thus far.