Highbridge: The Bridge

highbridge springs postcardWe thought our customers might be interested in High Bridge – the bridge. It has quite an interesting history, and the community around it has been closely allied with the fortunes of the bridge since construction first began. Originally planned as a suspension bridge for the Lexington and Danville railroad, it was designed by John Roebling, who later would design the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Roebling Suspension Bridge which today connects Covington to Cincinnati. Work began in the 1850s with towers for the suspension cables being built during that time. Construction was suspended during the Civil War. Afterwards, plans were altered and construction was resumed by the Cincinnati Southern Railway and the bridge opened in 1877 as the first cantilever bridge built on the American continent.

It was dedicated by president Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. The 275/308-foot tall and 1,125-foot long bridge crosses the deep gorge of the Kentucky River between Jessamine and Mercer counties. Being, at the time, the highest railroad bridge in North America and the highest railroad bridge in the world, High Bridge at once became a tourist attraction. Its popularity was at a peak during the first 20 years of the 1900s. A new bridge was built around the existing structure in 1911 and expanded to two tracks in 1929. Also in 1929 the large twin towers were torn down, and its popularity slowly faded. High Bridge still attracts interested parties who marvel at its amazing superstructure. Other attractions in the area today are High Bridge Park, offering a lovely view of the confluence of the Kentucky and Dix Rivers, High Bridge Quarry and Lock #7.

Highbridge: The Kentucky Drinking Water Company

highbridge springs old postcardIn 1981 when Highbridge was just getting started it was a family operation. The “girls and Dad” would fill the bottles – back then it was only bottles, nothing else – load the pickup truck and a couple of the girls would take the truck to Lexington with the instructions, “Don’t come back until you’ve sold all that water.”

At that time bottled water was unknown in Kentucky. There was a distilled product on the shelves of some stores for use in steam irons, but no stores were selling bottled drinking water. It took a brave store manager to put it on the shelf and certainly no one had home delivery back then so the stores were the only “big” customers

In the early days Highbridge and especially the girls making the run into Lexington knew there were certain stores they could count on to take some of their drinking water. The funny thing is that we count several of those stores among our customers even today. For example Kroger stores and Good Foods Coop have been customers since day one – and they still are today. The girls always knew they could count on Leonard and John Fitch at Fitch’s IGA in Wilmore to take “whatever was left on the pickup truck” when they were headed back to the cave from Lexington. Fitch’s IGA is still a good customer today. Laurel Grocery has been one of Highbridge’s strongest supporters for the full 30 year history of the company.

Over time the business grew to the point where today we count several thousand Kentuckians among our customers – homes, businesses and stores alike. But somehow it’s neat to know that some of those from the early days are still with us today. Highbridge is Kentucky Proud and Proud of Kentucky as well.

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  1. Afternoon at Highbridge | Mary Catherine Lewis says:

    […] I visited Highbridge Park the other week with my brother. It is a typical but favorite spot among local amateur photographers. Gymnastics and some daring always make a great addition to a photograph! For more information on Highbridge, see here. […]