Throwback Thursday – College Street Bridge

This week Throwback Thursday takes us along the Barren River as it flows through downtown Bowling Green. The College Street Bridge at Riverwalk Park has been aging for over a century. With a tumultuous history of fire and crime, let’s go back over 150 years to just before the Civil War.

Think about what Bowling Green was like in the 1850s. The growing boomtown depended on riverboats along the Barren and Green to bring commerce and trade through Warren County. The Louisville & Nashville Railroad was a new dream and the railway line through Bowling Green was finishing its construction.

Bowling Green was a hotbed for the developing Civil War debate. Its people were split, sympathizing with both the Union and Confederate causes. The original College Street Bridge was up by 1860, and was burned to the ground by southern rebels as they overtook the city in 1862. 

Northern Union troops had settled into Bowling Green by the end of the war. The bridge was rebuilt by 1864 and all seemed well until February 12, 1915 when the bridge set fire again. With easier access to steel and transportation, local politicians and engineers were able to speed up the reconstruction process.

The Vincennes Bridge Company out of Indiana was commissioned to rebuild the bridge in 1915. The bridge’s newest dedication plaque shows support from then-Warren County Judge Executive Henry H. Denhardt and Road Engineer M. H. Crump. The Vincennes Bridge Company was defunct by 2006 and absorbed into Wabash Steel, Inc. 

No longer a vital way to reach the city, the 104-year-old College Street Bridge is now a pedestrian bridge at Riverwalk Park. Another example of historic preservation, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places.