Mystery Bridge Nr. 52: The Bridge From Brazil

Photo taken by Nathan Holth

Here’s a pop quiz for you readers, with regards to this mystery bridge:

1. When was the oldest swing bridge in the US ever built and

2. When was the first time a bridge was ever relocated in the US?

This Mystery Bridge takes you to Florida and in particular, this bridge. Located over the Suwannee River at the Lafayette and Suwannee County border, the Drew Bridge features a swing bridge with a Warren through truss design. The name Drew comes from a family that consisted of George Franklin Drew, who governed Florida from 1877 to 1881, and his sons, George L. Drew and Franklin Drew, who operated a lumber business near the site of the bridge and purchasd a large segment of the Suwannee and San Pedro Railroad in 1899 and extended the line to Mayo, to accomodate their business. They purchased this bridge, located somewhere in Brazil, in 1900 and  was put into service after being transported to its current site  in 1901. It served traffic until the railroad was abandoned due to competition in 1921. Since that time, the bridge has been sitting abandoned in an open position. The bridge was named after the elder Drew, who died in 1900.

Nathan Holth visited the bridge earlier this year and is looking for some information as to the date of the construction, the bridge builder, and whereabouts is the bridge located. The reason for this (and one can see it through the information and photos he took on the trip) are the features of the bridge- both in terms of portal and strut bracings as well as the way the bridge was constructed, both in terms of materials used as well as the how the bridge parts were assembled (and reassembled upon its relocation. It is clear that the bridge has been in its current location for 113 years. However, the inscriptioions on the steel, combined with the design have it being pointed to the construction date of between 1870 and 1885. More information can be found via link here:

Link: http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowser=florida/drewbridge/

If you have any information that is important to the research on this bridge, please contact Nathan Holth using the contact information on his website. You can also place your comments here for readers to read.

Because of its unique design and history, the Drew Bridge is one of the candidates for this year’s Ammann Awards in its respective category. 🙂