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The Benjamin Fitzpatrick

Tallasseee in Pictures:
The Benjamin Fitzpatrick

By Michael Butler

The Benjamin Fitzpatrick Bridge is the centerpiece of Tallassee's landscape, the heart of the city, the connector of east to west and west to east.

It was completed in 1940. On Dec. 10 of that year, approximately 6,000 attended its dedication ceremony.

13,000 vehicles pass over the Tallapoosa on the Fitzpatrick daily. It is still one of the longest curved bridges in the world.

The Dec. 17, 1940 edition of the Florence Times headlined, "Ben Fitzpatrick Bridge Open to Public."

"Erected at a cost of more than $600,000 this structure forms a vitally important link on State Highway 14," the article noted. "Built on a curve and a grade, the bridge is said to be the only one of its kind in the world, and is the state's highest - 143 feet above water level."

The bridge is named for former Alabama governor, Benjamin Fitzpatrick, who served as the state's 11th governor from 1841-45 and as a U.S. Senator afterwards. In 1860, he turned down a vice presidential nomination to partner with presidential nominee Stephen Douglas of the Democratic Party.

The Benjamin Fitzpatrick Bridge is roughly 1/3 of a mile, 1,738 feet long to be exact, or the length of about six football fields.

The bridge was last painted in 1999. It it inspected on an annual basis..

Alabama Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Brantley Kirk explained, "Some of the things we're looking for are; deficiencies within the structure that may require some maintenance. This allows us to comply with state and federal regulations."

The Fitzpatrick is of Warren Deck Truss design, which uses connecting elements that form triangular units.

"(The Benjamin Fitzpatrick) is legal for all loads," said Kirk, "due to temporary work that we performed in 1997 to correct the load carrying capabilities. It's still a very safe structure for all travelers."

The beginnings of the Fitzpatrick
Bill Goss/Images of America - Tallassee

Opening the Fitzpatrick, Dec. 10, 1940
Bill Goss/Images of America - THPS

1941 Horace Perry photo
Alabama Department of Archives and History

Lithograph by artist Carol Barksdale
Courtesy of Tallassee Chamber of Commerce

Thurlow Dam, north of the bridge

Watercolor art by Iain Stewart AWS/NWS

Train trestle over the Tallapoosa, south of the Fitzpatrick

View from downstream, Benjamin Fitzpatrick in the backdrop

Alabama Power Thurlow Plant tour during Tallassee Now

View from Thurlow Dam

Spectators during the 2016 east side mill fire

Vantage point from Tallassee's Water Filtration Plant

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