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.
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.
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.