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Chain Bridge: 1865

Chain Bridge: 1865

View down the Chain Bridge over the Potomac near Washington circa 1865. Wet collodion glass plate negative by William Morris Smith. View full size.


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Chain Bridge

The entire structure is actually within the limits of the District of Columbia. The boundary line between Arlington, Virginia and Washington, D.C. is the high tide line on the Virginia side.

Booth Escape

To quote 'The Life, Crime, and Capture of John Wilkes Booth'

"Three grand pursuits wore organized: one reaching up the north bank of the Potomac toward Chain bridge, to prevent escape by that direction into Virginia, where Mosby, it was suspected, waited to hail the murderers;

A second starting from Richmond, Va., northward, forming a broad advancing picket or skirmish line between the Blue Ridge and the broad sea-running streams;

A third to scour the peninsula towards Point Lookout."

The shack to the right

Either that or a not-so-private privy...or a privy for privates.

Goober Pea

Bridge on the other side of town...

On his way to Clinton, MD, J.W. Booth crossed the Anacostia River via the Navy Yard Bridge.

More detail on Booth's route here -

Chain Bridge Guard Shack

Looks like it is mounted on some type of pedestal so that it can be rotated. I am assuming the vertical opening on the side was for aiming a rifle through it while still providing some protection for the sentry.

The shack to the right...

was for the guards.

If memory serves, the Chain Bridge was the route Booth took from Washington after Lincoln's assassination.

Re: Not a Chain Bridge

The pictured bridge is not of linked chain trusses, but its predecessor was. The earlier chain bridge was built about 1810 and collapsed in 1852. The new bridge retained the name of Chain Bridge, and to this day there is a Chain Bridge Road across the Potomac in Virginia.

Click here for more info.

BTW, what is that little shack on the right? An outhouse? Guard shack?

Not a Chain Bridge

This is a wonderful wooden bridge but for sure not a "chain bridge". A typical chain bridge from about that time (1849) is in Budapest. In a chain bridge the links are stressed with tension not with pressure.

S. H.

Chain Bridge

Wonderful texture in this image. The construction details are fascinating, especially the arches. That looks like a pedestrian walkway on the right side of the bridge. Perhaps the sand on the roadbed was to muffle the sound of horses hooves and the wheels of wagons and heavy artillery?

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