I decided to look for the famous Wilson Dam Waterfall on my last morning of my visit to North Alabama and the Shoals area. I’d had great food, wonderful tours, and still had a few more things on my agenda. I followed Google’s directions only to discover the bridge leading to the was closed to the public.
I could hear the crashing water and could see waves bump against the rocks on the shore but could not get a glimpse of the falls. So I decided to continue to explore the TVA area, and see if I could access something else. I came across this fishing area and startled a few anglers while I watched this boat cross the water and disappear.
I hopped back in the car determined to find get nearer to the water. Crossing over the O’Neal bridge, I saw an older bridge to my left and decided THAT was the place I had to visit. I fished my way to its kinda hidden parking area and strolled to it.
The Old Railroad Bridge was built in 1839 to provide transportation between the cities of Florence and Sheffield. It had a previous life as a double decker rail system with trains crossing atop and wagons and pedestrians using the lower bridge.
The Old Railroad Bridge has had a lively history! Confederates burned it down in 1862 and it was rebuilt in 1870. In 1892 a steam locomotive crashed through the upper and lower tracks and in 1904 electric street cars were added as a travel option.
The bridge has been repeatedly rebuilt, the bottom deck removed, then operations ceased as rail traffic declined.
The bridge is now a pedestrian-only marvel, spanning 1500 feet long and sitting 14 feet high on the Tennessee River. It was a perfect place for a morning stroll and a chance for me to sit and appreciate my weekend, my month, and my 25 years.
The Old Railroad Bridge is located in 2100 Ashe Blvd, Sheffield, AL 35660 but my route was pretty circuitous. I really did have to finagle my way there. There is some parking and there are nearby paths that seem to lead to hiking areas. Crossing bridges used to make me nervous but I’ve come to enjoy the idea of “flying” over water as I drive or walk across them. I can see myself returning to enjoy the breezes across the river and to maybe enjoy a sunset or two.
Have you visited the Old Railroad Bridge?