The John Roebling Bridge is designated as a national historic landmark and a national civil engineering landmark. This bridge is the predecessor, and sometimes referred to as the ‘prototype’, for the famous Brooklyn Bridge which was John and Washington Roebling’s masterpiece. The Roebling Bridge was a state-of-the art high technology wonder that put Cincinnati and Covington on the world map when it was formally opened for public use in January 1867. The bridge was the longest bridge in the world based on the 1057 foot center span when it opened. The bridge remained the longest in the world until the Brooklyn Bridge was completed 16 years later.
The bridge today has a slightly different look from the original construction. In 1895, 28 years after the bridge first opened, a major reconstruction of the bridge was undertaken to increase the load carrying capability of the bridge. This was because of the increased weight of the electric street cars using the bridge. The reconstruction work involved the addition of a second pair of suspension cables and was completed in 1899.
Near tour station 1 you will see the anchor houses. These are the long stone buildings at the end of the bridge where the ends of the suspension cables are anchored into the ground. In each anchor house, the cable end is connected to a chain of 10-foot-long eye-bar links that arc nearly 50 feet downward into the ground to a large anchor plate held in place by tons of stone backfill. There are two anchor houses at each corner of the bridge, one for each of the two suspension cables. On the Ohio side, the anchor houses do not abut each other because they were separated by Water Street in the 1890s. More detail on the two suspension cables, which are a unique characteristic of the Roebling Bridge, will be presented at tour stations 2 and 3.