High Bridge, KY (Tallest bridge over water in the world at time of construction)


Apr 2, 2008
London, ON, Canada
I have a project I'm thinking of attempting but not sure if I can find the space for it.

It's the 'High Bridge' over the Kentucky River. I need to make a drawing of it first. Lots of pics are available on it. No drawings as far as I know. The deck is 275 feet above the water and the bridge looks about 1/3 longer then that.

At one time before the Southern Railway double tracked it. There were large large limestone piers holding it up but when they doubled it they took the piers and replaced them with metal. Still looks pretty awesome though. I was thinking if I make most of the details out of card and the needed parts out of styrene or even metal.

A couple of pics..

As yet I haven't measured the length of the bridge but I know it's longer then taller. In HO (1/87) it's nearly 38" to the deck from the water. A topographic map of the area should solve the length problem then make a sketch then a drawing. I would guess it's about 50"-52" (4'-2" - 4'-4") long. A pretty big hunk of real estate on a somewhat small layout. To model the Southern and not put in the bridge as it approaches Lexington would be a crime though.. Still mulling it over hehe.

If I made most of it out of card though construction could be pretty quick. All that girder work could be cut out card stock even rust and weathering could be added to the print along with rivets and so on.. Or I could do as you have done and cut out the details and add them to the bridge (Gussets / Rivets) Angle Iron is a folded piece of card stock. I've scene trains passing over the bridge and they are dwarfed by it's size.

Probably would need a good support though I'm thinking metal would work great for that. for it's size not to much would be needed and I could easily hide thick piano wire in there. I know it's not just the weight of the bridge but the 'fluid' load (Trains) on top too that have to be supported.

Any hints or suggestions anyone may wish to add please feel free. I can use the help..


Nov 12, 2008
Sounds like a great project. I have crossed that bridge many times going to Eastern Kentucky to visit family but have never seen it from below. Your links would'nt work but I'm excited about seeing them. I had a what turned out to be a bigger project than expected was my Log Dump platform over on my Maple Valley Logging & Millwork Thread. So many times in modeling we forget how important & how interesting our layouts can become when we have these special projects within a layout. I would give this much thought & research & go all out on this. I like when people see an area & say WOW did you build that. Most people think everything comes out of a box with instructions. Again make yourself proud of this project & keep us posted. sign1


Jun 12, 2008
Your links are broken because they've been copy/pasted from another posting somewhere, i'd imagine, and not directly from the URL bar in your browser.

Open up the pics in your browser, copy/paste the URL up there, and then they'll work :thumb:


Apr 2, 2008
London, ON, Canada
Links don't work...

Sorry bout that. I checked them right after posting as I always do.
Found some links that should work..

Wikipedia page on the High Bridge

Waymark Site. (click on images on the left twice and you can enlarge twice)

NS train passing over bridge (You Tube Video)

Those links should work.

Data on the bridge.

Span 1125 feet (12.9' HO)
Height above the water 275 (3.16' HO)

That would take nearly an entire wall to model 'Actual Size' My layout space is 15.1' x 14.8'. Half sizing the bridge would perhaps give it good representation but it would loose some of it's enormity (well half of it ;)) So I'm going to have to think about it some more. Half sizing could be a plan though. The river is quite wide there 369' (4.24' HO)

Some more measurements using various tools.

Based on measurements (on center) done using Google Earth
- Southern entrance => Southern Pier (435')
- Distance between piers (371.91')
- Northern pier => Northern entrance (318.1')

Note: Pier location has to do with available location on the floor of the canyon as well as bridge location for river navigation.

Based on measurements using photo rectification.

Thickness of deck 3.22' (about 0.5" HO)

Southern pilon breakdown (all measurements are from water level up)
- Height to bridge deck 271.88'
- Height of Pier to lower truss 203.04'
- Height of total limestone 49.00'
- Height of 'clean' Limestone 33.84' (Risen water/ice level at times - cleaning limestone surface)

Limestone Pilon (using google earth again)
- Width 28.66'
- Length 111.10'

It definitely would be a challenging project. Have to figure a good way to compress so it still looks massive without it taking so much space to do it. As well as finding a space for it to fit into my layout.