Sunday, August 12, 2007

Old Bridges at Land Between the Lakes, KY

Eggner's Ferry Bridge and Lawrence Memorial Bridge

The Eggner's Ferry Bridge on August 11, 2007

The Eggner's Ferry Bridge (pictured above) crosses the Tennessee River at Fenton, on the west side of Kentucky's Land Between the Lakes. The Lawrence Memorial Bridge crosses the Cumberland River at Canton, on the east side of Land Between the Lakes.

Both these long bridges were built in the early 1930s, before the rivers were dammed and the lakes were formed. Before Kentucky Lake was filled in 1944, Eggner's Ferry Bridge underwent modifications. According to, new pilings were built and the bridge was raised in 1943. The Lawrence Memorial Bridge underwent a similar procedure in preparation for the damming of the Cumberland River and the filling of Lake Barkley (which took place in the 1960s) .

Highway 68/80, the road on which these bridges lie, has become a major, well-traveled, east-west route through southern Kentucky. Most of the road is now 4-lane. Land Between the Lakes is a popular recreation spot for both tourists and residents, and many of these bridge-crossers are towing campers or boats behind them. All in all, a lot of traffic pours across these bridges every day.

The two bridges were declared functionally obsolete in their last inspection. They are scheduled to be replaced within the next decade, and that will be a good thing for the motorists who must cross them. The bridges are too narrow for modern traffic. It's not uncommon to hear of someone whose rear-view mirror was knocked off while crossing these bridges.

The new bridges will have 4-lanes with shoulders and an additional lane for foot and bicycle traffic. They will cost an unbelievable $80 to 100 million each. Highway 68/80 will also be made 4-lane through Land Between the Lakes. The project is still in its design phase. Construction won't start until 2008 or 2009, and it will take several years to complete.

School buses from Christian County are not allowed to cross the Lawrence Memorial or Eggner's Ferry bridges. When our high school teams play Murray (west of Land Between the Lakes), they travel about fifty miles farther so the buses can cross the rivers on I-24's wider, safer bridges.

Eggner's Ferry history

The Eggner's Ferry Bridge over the Tennessee River is named for the ferry that was there for many years before the bridge was built. The ferry was established by Milton Eggner, (who also ran a stagecoach business and had a mail-carrying contract) in the 1850s.

During the Civil War, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Tilghman mentioned Eggner's Ferry in a dispatch that warned of Union forces on the road to Murray. According to a listing of tavern licenses, in 1865, both Wm. Price and O. Walsdrop posted bonds and were licensed to operate a tavern at Eggner's Ferry. It is not clear if they operated the same tavern or different ones.

Eggner's Ferry is mentioned as an address in the 1924 obituary of Mr. Temolean ("Mollie" Leneave. An image of the Eggner Ferry when operated by John L. Jackson has been posted at Webshots by a Trigg county resident. Mr. Charles Hill Bradley, mentioned in a 1931 book of Calloway County biographies, owned an interest in the Eggner ferry and store. He may have been one of the last owners, because the bridge was built in 1932.

Read more:
"Bridge forum draws crowd", Murray Ledger

Updated 1/29/2012

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

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(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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