Virginia State Seal Virginia Department of Historic Resources

024-0056 High Bridge

High Bridge
Photo credit: Elizabeth André, 2008

*Click on image to enlarge.

For additional information, read the Nomination Form PDF

VLR Listing Date 06/19/2008

NRHP Listing Date 09/12/2008

NRHP Reference Number 08000875

Stretching a straight and level 2,418 feet, more than 100 feet above the Appomattox River and its flood plain between Cumberland and Prince Edward counties, High Bridge is an impressive steel structure erected in 1914. The register listing for the bridge also includes the extant masonry piers and abutments from the 1854 High Bridge. Both the steel structure and the vestiges of the earlier bridge recall the development of the railroad in Virginia and the final phase of the Civil War. The 1854 bridge was built by the Southside Railroad to span the Appomattox, a major obstacle to its new line between Lynchburg and Petersburg. The bridge rose 126 feet, making it one of the largest bridges in the world at the time. In 1865, while fleeing Union General Francis Barlow’s forces after the fall of Petersburg, Robert E. Lee’s army burned the High Bridge — though not completely. Thus Union forces were able to keep close on the heels of the Confederates and ultimately catch them at Appomattox Court House. After the war another bridge was quickly erected — though it soon needed replacing, which happened in 1914 when the steel bridge was constructed along the ruins of the 1854 bridge piers. The High Bridge rail line continued to be used for passenger service until 1979 and freight transport until 2005. The Department of Conservation and Recreation has since converted the abandoned rail line to a multi-use trail as a component of the High Bridge Trail State Park.

Many properties listed in the registers are private dwellings and are not open to the public, however many are visible from the public right-of-way. Please be respectful of owner privacy.

VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

Updated: October 4, 2021