Social & Cultural Office, Historic Preservation Section
James K. Polk Building, Suite 900
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0334
Tammy Sellers, Historic Preservation Program Manager
Historians with TDOT work extensively to identify, survey, and preserve historic bridges throughout the state. In the 1980s, TDOT began an intensive statewide survey of all vehicular bridges potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
In addition to the statewide survey, TDOT attempts to rehabilitate and preserve as many bridges as possible. Also, TDOT has a marketing program to advertise the availability of historic bridges for preservation in place or at new locations. This program identifies governments, agencies, parks, or historic groups that might be interested in preserving historic bridges. For every historic bridge scheduled for replacement, TDOT mails information to about 100 groups that might be interested in either preserving the bridge in place or adaptively reusing the structure on a new location. This marketing program has led to the successful preservation or adaptive reuse of many of Tennessee’s most unique bridges. Because of this intensive marketing campaign, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the U.S. Department of Transportation honored TDOT with an Outstanding Public Service to Transportation and Historic Preservation award.
Tennessee’s Survey Report for Historic Highway Bridges: Pre-1946 Masonry Arch, Timber Truss, Metal Truss, Concrete Arch, Metal Arch, and Suspension Bridges
The survey report uses historical context, narrative history, images, and drawings to explore bridge history in Tennessee, up to the end of World War II. It details TDOT's state-wide survey of vehicular metal truss, timber truss, masonry arch, concrete arch, metal arch, and suspension bridges that have been or are currently located on highways. The report discusses the survey's findings, including:
The survey reveals the existence of a surprising number of significant historic bridges and provides a foundation for their preservation. It also provides a detailed context of bridge history in Tennessee that will appeal to not only historians, but also to anyone who has wondered about the history of a bridge in their community.
View and download chapters of the Historic Highway Bridges publication. Copies are available in book form at most library systems in Tennessee.