Dedicated to the People: Natchez-Vidalia Bridge

toll plaza bridge in background

On making my first trip to Natchez several years ago, I was curious as to why there was a circular “park” just before one crossed the Mississippi bridge to Vidalia.  It is next to the tourist information building, and I never gave it much additional thought.  Recently while in my favorite cyber-research portal–the Mississippi Department of Archives & History/Historic Resources Inventory database, I learned it was the former toll plaza for the Natchez-Vidalia Bridge, completed in 1940 as PWA Mississippi project #1126.  The Mississippi River bridge operated initially as a toll bridge.  Although the booths have been removed, the toll plaza, surrounded by its semi-circle of wooden columns, remains, along with the historic plaque identifying the project.

bridge at Vidalia

The original cantilevered Warren through truss bridge opened to traffic September 26, 1940.  Currently, it carries traffic from Natchez to Vidalia.  A second bridge, completed in 1988, accommodates vehicles from Vidalia to Natchez.  The engineers, Ash-Howard-Needles & Tammer also designed the Ben G. Humphreys Memorial Bridge that linked Greenville, Mississippi with Lake Village, Arkansas (dismantled following the construction of the current bridge at that crossing).

Construction of the bridge took from 1938-1940.  In 1939, the entire town of Vidalia was relocated by WPA workers, who moved it six blocks inland in a federal flood control project (crt.state.la.us).  Because Natchez sat high above the river on the bluff, Vidalia was sacrificed in the Corps of Engineers project to manage flooding.  WPA workers laid out the new streets, sidewalks, and jacked up and moved over 100 homes and commercial buildings.  Others were demolished and new buildings constructed, including the Concordia Parish courthouse.  While private contractors built the courthouse, the WPA workers laid out the site along with the rest of Vidalia.

bridge at night

The bridge was lighted in a $3 million project completed in 2010 in a joint venture between the City of Vidalia–who supplies the power–the Louisiana Department of Transportation, and the Mississippi Department of Transportation.



Categories: Bridges, Historic Preservation, Natchez, New Deal

7 replies

  1. This piece helps answer the questions asked by many people about the subdued – even bland – architectural nature of the Natchez Visitor Center. The modern brick building sits as a backdrop to this historic toll plaza colonnade.

  2. Great info and photos! This is such a pretty part of our Mississippi.

  3. I’ve always associated this with the visitor’s center, never thought to go look for a plaque! In your research did you see a picture of how this looked when the bridge was a toll bridge? And, do you know when they stopped charging a toll?

  4. Yes, and no. I found pictures of the toll bridge in HABS, but it was not clear they were public domain. I found a great postcard of an aerial view. I will send it to you via email. I have no idea when they converted it from a toll bridge.

  5. I have been known to drive over to Vidalia just to make a U-turn and drive back over this wonderful bridge. What a great experience!

  6. One of the great things about being in Vidalia is the beautiful view looking back across the Mississippi River at Natchez on (and under) the hill. When my family stayed over there in the hotel on the levee, I could hardly get them out of their room to do anything!

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  1. Mississippi by Air: Natchez-Vidalia Bridge « Preservation in Mississippi

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