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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Upstairs, Downstairs: 1907

Upstairs, Downstairs: 1907

Circa 1907. "Cliff stairway, High Bridge, Kentucky." Oops, forgot my car keys, brb. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Not recommended for acrophobics

Not recommended for acrophobics, despite the apparently solid construction. Bing Maps has some great aerial images of this area for comparison at:

Be sure to zoom in on the bridge and click the "Bird's eye" option--then click-and-drag, play with the rotate button,etc. to bring up several different views, including one with a train on the bridge.

That rich, bottom land soil is tempting for agriculture, but I think my house would stand high on pilings were I to build on that flood plain!

Oh, my aching knees

The people at the top of the photo don't look like youngsters, but I'm thinking of the guys who BUILT this thing. How the heck did they get those stairs on that cliff? I wonder how many injuries were sustained by those who erected this thing.

Master Carpentry

Before I thought about Ollie and Stan and the piano and the cop and the mailman Charlie Hall I was awestruck with the skills in carpentry that went into the building of this stairway.

Watch that first step!

If the stairs were constructed to today's building codes, typically a landing would be required for every twelve feet of height. Good place to break a fall if you started tumbling down, and would definitely provide a nice spot to catch your breath on the climb back up!

Stairway to Eternity

Alas, the boards are long gone:

Calling Stan and Ollie.

We have a piano to deliver.

Bridge and Stairs

My Official Railway Guide 1893 reprint lists this location as being on the Queen & Crescent System, which included the Cincinnati, New Orleans & Texas Pacific, so it would have been incorporated into the Southern Railway System by the time of the photo, and today would indeed be on Norfolk Southern's Rathole Division.

I would imagine that this photo was taken from the railway bridge. The stairs might be for access between the depot and the river.

Today's Americans With Disabilities Act compliance officer would definitely not approve.

Scary enough

Scary enough in good weather, but in rain. Forget it. Trouble is, it could start to rain along the way, as that is along way. And ice would be even worse. Yikes.

Porch & Deck Enamel

I remember as a kid being handed a scraper, cans of paint and a brush. I was then pointed at the back porch and heard "get started". There went spring break. This thing would have definitely killed my entire summer vacation.

Long flight

Those have got to be the longest flights of stairs I have eve rseen. Rollin, rollin, rollin, is right. Those stairways are totally cool, and ridiculously unsafe. It must be a code violation to construct a stairway today with such long uninterrupted runs. I wonder if anyone did trip at the top of a landing?

Still there?

Looking at satellite photos, it's hard to tell.

Not the Only One

There's a stairway like that at Duke Creek Falls in Georgia. You don't want to be doing it more than once in a day - or a weekend for that matter.


Two wondering questions come to mind - did anyone every catch their foot at the top and roll all the way down to the bottom (rollin', rollin' rollin - Rawhide) - and conversely, did anyone ever have a heart attack climbing UP those stairs? If I lived there, I'd take the first train out!

I'm Certain

Very few tried to slide down those bannisters! And it wouldn't be just fear of splinters that would hold them back.

Cliff now?

Is this in the now-Norfolk Southern Rathole Division between Kentucky and Tennessee?

High Bridge is quite a site. My wife and I have been over it a couple of times on J611 and 1218 excursons. I understand in the old days the railway ran trips out to the gorge and participants enjoyed picnics and hikes down to the river...and now, thanks to Shorpy, I can see how they got down to the river.

Wow, quite a climb!

I wonder where the railway bridge is from here?

Those rocks

Truly a geologist's dream.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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