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Richmond’s Lost “Singing” 9th Street Bridge

I am fascinated with the old bridges of Richmond. It’s hard to not have nostalgia for the the old “singing” 9th street bridge that predated the Manchester Bridge. Built in 1878, the bridge was originally designed to handle horse drawn carriages. With the advancement of automobiles it was often described as primitive. But what it lacked in advanced engineering, it more than made up for with symphonic character. Here is what Wikipeida has to say about it:

“The former Ninth Street (“Singing”) Bridge was a primitive affair built rather low over the river, and whose creosote-treated wooden deck was fitted with strips of metal plates spaced a tire-track apart to prevent excessive wear. As the tires rolled along, these plates, embossed to provide traction, would give off a high humming note—a note that suddenly would rise by about a fifth as a vehicle crossed from south to north: presumably the embossed pattern changed at that point. Returning to Southside in the other lane, the note would remain the same all the way across.

The former Ninth Street Bridge was closed and barely escaped submergence during river flooding resulting from Hurricane Camille in 1969, strengthening the resolve of engineers that the replacement would be high above even flood levels of the river. The old bridge was submerged 3 years later during flooding from Hurricane Agnes, and was not returned to service, since the replacement Manchester Bridge was virtually complete.”

It looks like it was a good thing the accident prone and rickety old bridge was replaced. But what a thrill it must have been to hear that bridge sing to you as you crossed the mighty James. I would give a nickel to ride across that old bridge one more time!

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13 thoughts on “Richmond’s Lost “Singing” 9th Street Bridge

  1. Me too & then Mom would drive around the “urch” street (the short curvy cobblestone street on the south end of the bridge around a factory? building) Our VW beetle always made that sound when she drove fast!🤣

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