A One-of-a-Kind Bridge is Inaugurated in Kentucky

November 13, 1940

In western Kentucky, the Livermore Bridge was officially opened. This through truss bridge starts at the city of Livermore in McLean County, crosses over the Rough River, spans a small part of Ohio County, and then ends up on the south bank of the Green River back in McLean County. 

That design for the bridge – originating in one county, crossing two rivers and another county, and then winding up back in the county where it started – is a one-of-a-kind configuration and has earned the structure a mention in the syndicated Ripley’s Believe It or Not! newspaper feature. The bridge, which carries U.S. Route 431, was built by the Work Projects Administration. (The above photo shows a view of the bridge from its southern end.)

Despite cold and blustery weather, a large crowd turned out for the formal debut of the Livermore Bridge. “At the foot of the slope topped by the celebrants was moored the permanently wharfed ferry boat, and beyond towering high was the gleaming silver steel of the new bridge,” reported the Messenger-Inquirer (a newspaper based in the city of Owensboro, Kentucky).

Governor Keen Johnson officiated at this dedication ceremony. The Messenger-Inquirer noted, “With overcoat buttoned, the chief executive of the state led a battery of speakers to envision a new era of progress, buttressed and anticipatory in design, when the slow-moving ferry was abandoned for the swifter and surer mode of travel.”

J. Lyter Donaldson, commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Highways, was among the other public officials attending the ceremony. His big job for the occasion involved actually opening the bridge to traffic. A couple of local elementary school-aged children, Reba Rose Hughart and Freda Katherine Chenault, were at different ends of the bridge and staying warm inside automobiles parked at those locations. In response to a signal given by Donaldson during the ceremony, both girls stepped out to snip the ribbons at each end of the new structure. Shortly after these ribbon-cutting duties were performed, hundreds of people drove their vehicles across the Livermore Bridge.

The celebration of the opening of the bridge continued late into that night with a banquet at the high school in Livermore. “The evening waned toward midnight,” reported the Messenger-Inquirer. “The streets that had echoed the tread of celebrants grew silent, and only the bridge bathed in moonlight sentineled the scene of dedication.”

For more information on the Livermore Bridge, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livermore_Bridge

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