Crossing the Pascagoula Twenty Years Apart

To shake out the winter dust and get on the road I took a trip to George County.  I had several stops to make but I had two destinations with a common thread: crossing the Pascagoula River.

George County MDOT HWY map 1928

The Merrill Bridge would replace the toll ferry in the northwest corner for the county. George County MDOT HWY map Correct to January 1,1928 http://sp.mdot.ms.gov/Office of Highways/Planning/Maps/State Highway Maps Archive/HWY Map 1928 State Highway Map.pdf accessed 1/26/2015

The first stop on my trip was the oldest span crossing the Pascagoula River.  The Merrill bridge was built in 1928 where the Leaf and Chickasaway rivers form the head waters of the Pascagoula.  I approached from the west side of the river on Hwy 57 and traveled a little over 3 miles on dirt road. The bridge consists of two spans with both spans consisting of Parker through truss.  If you don’t like heights you might find the open deck slightly unnerving, but the sight of the bridge and the views it offers are a reward for your pluck.  A 1955 aerial of the bridge shows that the adjacent Illinois Central Railroad bridge was at one point a similar two span bridge which is sadly gone, replaced with a boring looking trestle.  The span was named a Mississippi Landmark in 1993.  It was closed to vehicular traffic in 2012 due to safety concerns.  If I was 84 I would want vehicles to stop driving over me also.

I doubt that Merrill could have ever been described as bustling, but it must have been a pretty happening place back in 1928 when you could spurn a ferryman and pay a toll to cross the Pascagoula at Merrill.

George County MDOT HWY map 1946

The Pascagoula Bridge at Benndale would replace the last toll ferry in Mississippi. George County MDOT HWY map Correct to July 1948 http://sp.mdot.ms.gov/Office of Highways/Planning/Maps/State Highway Maps Archive/HWY Map 1948 Front.pdf accessed 1/26/2015

My next stop was several miles downriver to the Pascagoula River bridge on Hwy 26.  It was built in 1948, exactly 20 years after the Merrill span.  While the crossing at Merrill might have been the first bridge over the Pascagoula, the Hwy 26 span was the last to replace an instate toll ferry.  This cantilevered Warren through truss bridge is in good shape and carries over 2500 vehicles a day.

For a better understanding of the Parker and Warren trusses check out the Historic American Engineering Record on trusses.  Do you have any favorite bridges in your neck of Mississippi?  View the HAER truss sheet and let us know what type of truss is employed.



Categories: Bridges, Cool Old Places, Demolition/Abandonment, Historic Preservation, Urban/Rural Issues, Vernacular Architecture

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8 replies

  1. Greenwood’s 1925 Keesler. A jewel. Just took a picture, right outside my office door, too tech limited to send it.

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    • That is a great bridge. Appears to be appreciated and well maintained. You’re luck to see it everyday.

      If you’d like to share the photo you can uploaded the image to flickr and share it with the MissPres page. Or you can email the image to me if you like and we will find a way to share it.

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  2. I hate I missed the opportunity to drive over the Merrill Bridge, although I could have sworn I drove through there somewhere around 2009.

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    • I am disappointed I missed the opportunity too. The span shortened an 18 mile drive for some. But now-a-days it seems out of the way. Although looking at the condition of some of those turn buckles had we driven across it in 2009 MissPreservation.com might have ended then and there!

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  3. I enjoy the Bayou Pierre Bridge on Highway 18 between Jackson and Port Gibson. It’s a Pratt through-truss bridge, only a single span, but combined with the beautiful wooded approaches, and especially with the sunlight casting shadows through the steel, it has “atmosphere.”

    http://www.apps.mdah.ms.gov/Public/prop.aspx?id=6010&view=facts&y=1160

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  4. Can’t begin to tell you how much I have enjoyed reading and looking at this post – over and over again. Love the city of Columbus, MS, restoration the old Tombigbee River Bridge! Wish the same could be done for our landmark the Byram Swinging Bridge.

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    • I am very glad to hear you have enjoyed this post so much. The approaches of the Tombigbee River Bridge are quite impressive. Its restoration was truly an amazing project knowing how long the structure had been abandoned….There may be hope for the Byram Swing Bridge yet.

      Bridgehunter.com has lots of great before and after photos of the Tombigbee River Bridge. The google street view even shows the restoration work underway.

      http://bridgehunter.com/ms/lowndes/columbus-swing/

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