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Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga

4.6
#10 of 14 in Sightseeing in Chattanooga
Bridge Landmark
Built in 1890, the Walnut Street Bridge was the first to connect Chattanooga, Tennessee's downtown with the North Shore. According to a plaque on the bridge, Edwin Thacher was the chief engineer for the bridge. The bridge's superstructure was assembled by the Smith Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio, which was a prolific late 19th-century bridge builder. The bridge's substructure was constructed by Neeley, Smith, and Company of Chattanooga. Most of the parts for the bridge were manufactured by Manly Jail Works of Dalton, Georgia and then shipped to the site by rail. The bridge's main spans are pin-connected Pennsylvania through truss spans. The top chord of these truss spans are configured in five sections, making the spans similar to the Camelback truss design. The bridge is historically significant as an extremely long and old example of its type; according to the Historic American Engineering Record: "The bridge was apparently the first non-military highway bridge across the Tennessee River."A former Union officer from Ann Arbor, Michigan, William Andrew Slayton (1854–1935) was the stone contractor. Slayton lived in a stone house at 533 Barton Avenue, the house known for years by later inhabitants as the location of the "Little Art Shop." It is not known if he built this house, but similarly to Washington Roebling and the Brooklyn Bridge, he could overlook the project from his window. Many of the low stone walls in North Chattanooga are made up of the remnants of stones deemed too small for use in the piers. Subdivision plats in Chattanooga suggest that Slayton developed some areas to facilitate the hauling of materials from quarries in northeastern Alabama, and Slayton Street and Slayton Avenue are found near the current public library location on Broad Street. Slayton's obituary fails to note that there is no stone on his grave at Chattanooga Memorial near Red Bank, Tennessee.
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Where to stay in Chattanooga

Centrally located Chattanooga hotels offer comfortable rooms just a walk from the city's best shops, restaurants, and museums. Staying in the middle of everything can cost a bundle, so if you're traveling on a budget or simply prefer a bed and breakfast atmosphere, consider staying farther away from the central part of townwhile on holiday. Most budget-friendly inns located along the free electric shuttle route servicing the downtown area offer all the comforts of home at the fraction of the price charged by the big chains.
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  • This is a wonderful bridge closed to motor traffic. It is historic and offers great views of both sides of the river. It is easy to walk with minor inclines getting to the bridge from the river shore....  more »
  • Started day off at aquarium, walked across the bridge for lunch and a cone, back across, art galleries, great day  more »
  • We used this bridge frequently during our three day stay in Chattanooga and watched sunsets from it. Certainly an important item that enhances the downtown experience.  more »