Altamaha River Bridge near Jesup

About four miles northeast of Jesup is the former Atlantic Coast Line bridge over the Altamaha River, designed and constructed in 1911-13 to replace an earlier structure that lacked a draw span. While the older bridge had a 38-foot vertical clearance that was often adequate, at times of high water it tended to delay steamboat traffic.

This is the only still-active rail bridge over the Altamaha. The Seaboard Air Line and Georgia & Florida bridges, while remaining in existence, have been abandoned for years, while the Georgia Coast & Piedmont bridge between Darien and Brunswick was lost nearly a century ago.

Alongside the south river bank is the 117-foot bascule lift span, of a type known as a Strauss heel trunnion. It operates somewhat differently from the Scherzer rolling lift bridge used by the Georgia & Florida at the upper end of the Altamaha, but the result is the same in that a descending counterweight causes the lift span to rotate upwards. (For a discussion of the differences in bascule types, see the NMRA's data sheet Movable Bridges: Bascules.)

The bridge is at mile 59.4 of the Altamaha. Here on the south side of the river was a steamboat landing and the former community of Doctortown. Late in the Civil War, a Union brigade attacked Confederate forces defending the railroad bridge, but withdrew after the assault failed.

Northbound CSX locomotives travel over the deck spans. The through-truss on the right is the draw span. View from upstream.

A view of the lift span from downstream. The water level was quite low when these photos were made in October 2012.

An upstream view of the lift span.

(All photos October 2012). Georgia's Railroad History & Heritage. © Steve Storey

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