Tres Seymour: 270.531.3337
Or write: Battle for the Bridge Project, P.O. Box 606, Munfordville,
Albert Fink's Doomed Masterpiece
OFFICIAL RECORDS. VOL 52 Pt. 2 P. 152
Bowling Green. Sept. 19, 1861
Gen A. S. Johnston:
Are my orders imperative
to destroy the Green River Bridge immediately, and to withdraw my advanced
forces at once? I have made arrangements to do so. Unless the military
necessity is great, the destruction of so fine a work would injure us
very much politically. Hawes has rallied about 300 Southern men from
Barren and 100 from Hardin Counties. Hawes reports Rousseau with 1,700
men on Muldraugh’s Hilll, probably at the mouth of Salt River.
S. B. Buckner. Brigadier General.
The Louisville-Nashville Railroad Bridge, constructed
in 1857-1859 as part of the Louisville-Nashville Railway System, spans
the Green River and is still used by trains of the current CSX system
in its reconstructed form. During the construction of the L&N railroad,
the Green River presented a formidable obstacle that had to be surmounted.
A well-known construction engineer from Germany, Albert Fink, was hired
to design and supervise the construction of a massive structure over
the Green River. He planned to support the tracks and all trains over
this bridge by constructing an elaborate trusswork of his own design
supported by four enormous and intricately detailed stone piers. John
W. Key of Woodsonville and his two sons, Abner David Lewis Key and John
Martin Key, all stonemasons, were hired to construct the piers.
In October 1861, General Simon Bolivar Buckner of the C.S.A. received
orders to destroy the bridge to prevent Federal troops from crossing.
That the bridge was an engineering marvel and had been built by local
workers and craftsmen from his hometown compelled Buckner to protest
this action, but to no avail. John Key and his two sons were ordered
to place explosive charges in the two southernmost piers. They detonated
the charge in the southernmost pier, dropping two spans of the bridge
into the river 125 feet below.
There is no record of the Keys’ reaction to being ordered to destroy
their own masterpiece, but one might well imagine their feelings. Noting
that the bridge was extensively damaged and would be out of commission
for some time, Buckner refused to order the second charge blown. Concerned
citizens later removed the explosives from the pier.
There is nothing left of the original "Fink Truss," but the
Keys' stonework still remains as a physical reminder of what once was.