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Tyrone’s “S” Bridge

Dedicated the Jo Blackburn Bridge, it spans the Kentucky River

This bridge was originally called the New Tyrone Bridge, for the small community that lies in the river bottoms and is the oldest town in Anderson County. Photo: Chris Hayes
S bridges became popular in the U.S. in the early 19th century, but very few remain today. Photo: Chris Hayes
The 1,256-foot-long bridge was commissioned by the State Highway Commission of Kentucky and built in 1932 by the Virginia Bridge Co. Photo: Chris Hayes
The Blackburn Bridge runs parallel to the 1889 railroad Young's High Bridge. Photo: Chris Hayes
Wild Turkey Distillery, near Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, overlooks the Blackburn Bridge. Photo: Chris Hayes
Photo: Chris Hayes
The Jo Blackburn “S” bridge as seen from Vertigo Bungee jumping off Young’s High Bridge. Photo: Kendall Clinton/Lawrenceburg/Anderson County Tourism Commission
The Jo Blackburn “S” bridge as seen from Vertigo Bungee jumping off Young’s High Bridge. Photo: Kendall Clinton/Lawrenceburg/Anderson County Tourism Commission
The Jo Blackburn “S” bridge as seen from Vertigo Bungee jumping off Young’s High Bridge. Photo: Kendall Clinton/Lawrenceburg/Anderson County Tourism Commission
Historic photo of the Jo Blackburn Bridge that spans the Kentucky River. Photo: University of Kentucky Archives
A postcard of "New Tyrone Bridge Opening Day 1932" hangs in the Lawrenceburg/Anderson County Tourist Commission.

This drone shot of the historical Jo Blackburn Bridge, which carries U.S. 62 across the Kentucky River between Anderson and Woodford counties, clearly illustrates why it is called the “S” bridge, with curves at each end of the bridge.

S bridges became popular in the U.S. in the early 19th century, but very few remain today. The 1,256-foot-long bridge was commissioned by the State Highway Commission of Kentucky and built in 1932 by the Virginia Bridge Co.

It was originally called the New Tyrone Bridge, for the small community that lies in the river bottoms and is the oldest town in Anderson County. The bridge was later dedicated to the memory of Joseph Clay Styles Blackburn of Woodford County (1838–1918) per the memorial plaque: “a Confederate soldier, former United States congressman, senator, and governor of the Panama Canal Zone.”

The Jo Blackburn Bridge, which is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, was rehabilitated in 2006 with the deck being widened slightly and new railings. Today it carries an average of 3,735 vehicles across it daily.

According to BridgesTunnels.com, the three-span Warren deck truss crossing “is one of two S-bridges of its type in the world and the only one of its type in the United States.”

It says that “The crossing was funded by the Murphy Toll Bridge Act that was passed by the Kentucky legislature in 1928,” which enabled the state to erect bridges and sell construction bonds that would be paid back by tolls.

According to HistoricBridges.org, the bridge was rehabilitated in 2006, with the deck widened slightly and new railings installed.

Running parallel to the Blackburn bridge is Young’s High Bridge, a railroad cantilever bridge built in 1889, one of the oldest and tallest still standing today. Both bridges are next to Wild Turkey Distillery.

The Blackburn S bridge also serves as the backdrop for Vertigo Bungee photos and videos taken of those jumping off Young’s High Bridge.

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