Week 8, Theme 6 – Bridge

Anyone crossing the Manatee River between Bradenton and Palmetto, whether on the Desoto Bridge or the Greene Bridge is unable to miss the CSX Railroad bridge which crosses the river between the other two bridges.

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The Tampa Southern Railroad, which was incorporated in 1917, and was a subsidiary of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, constructed a rail line from Tampa to a point in Sarasota County, southeast of Sarasota, in a small town named Southfort (near Fort Ogden in the Peace River valley).  This railroad line was completed to Sarasota by 1924 and ultimately to Southfort by 1927.  Northeast of Palmetto near Rubonia,  a rectangular loop was constructed to serve the agricultural growers in the area and return to the mainline in Palmetto.  This loop was known as the “Ellenton Belt Line”.  Just south of Palmetto the line crossed the Manatee River.  To accomplish this crossing, a deck causeway was built which tied into a bascule bridge on the Bradenton side of the river just north of the Braidentown Railroad Depot (now Dr. Pope’s Eye Depot).

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This bridge is a single leaf bascule bridge (drawbridge) which utilizes a counterweight at one end to raise the span.  I was unable to determine the exact date that this bridge was built but I can’t imagine it being 90 years old.  This bridge only sees about 4 trains daily, the north and south bound Tropicana Juice Train and the north and southbound Tampa-Bradenton Local mixed freight.  With permission from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2004, the bridge operation was automated without a bridge tender.  As a train approaches the bridge from either direction, contact is made with the CSX Signal Department.  They in turn activate scanners at water level to ensure there are no boats in the vicinity of the bridge opening and then with a constant warning alarm, the bridge is lowered.  After the train has crossed the span, the bridge re-opens to allow marine traffic to continue.

GC1_5370 crop 1 Brdr 1

Thanks to Wikipedia, my major source for this history lesson. 🙂


8 thoughts on “Week 8, Theme 6 – Bridge

    • We just started seeing this in action within the last couple years. We were surprised. I’ve lived here since 1985 & probably first saw it in 2012 w/the train going by. It was really neat to see.

    • The Tropicana Juice Train is scheduled for early morning – inbound during rush hour and outbound usually around 10-10:30 am. The local from Tampa comes and goes when it’s ready. Sometimes there will be an extra that goes out on the Ellenton branch and delivers a train full of gravel.

  1. Love your shots but I dislike that bridge. We was ‘marine traffic’ one day while they were having problems with the remote service. We ended up sitting there for several hours waiting on the darned thing to go up! It was on omen…. the trip we planned to Key West via our boat ended near Charlotte Harbor with engine trouble. I guess the darned bridge was trying to tell us something and we didn’t listen! HA

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