Viaduct memorial bridge built almost three quarters of a century ago

Published 9:07 pm Friday, April 12, 2019

Editor’s note: Information for this article was taken from articles in The Advocate-Messenger.

The viaduct memorial bridge that spans the Southern Railroad has been around almost three quarters of a century.

The bridge, known as the Henry L. Nichols Viaduct, was named in honor of him while he was mayor and worked for the project, which had been on the drawing board for over a decade.

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The bridge is 756-foot-long and has a 28-foot wide roadway with sidewalks. It is made of concrete and steel and was constructed by R.R. Dawson of Bloomfield and Tye and Wells of Carrollton.

It had been a dream of Danville and Boyle County residents for more than 40 years and came true when it opened to traffic in Sept. 7, 1947, for travelers along West Main Street and Maple Avenue and via Parksville and Perryville roads. This route over the viaduct opened up a new way west and prevented traffic from driving across the railroad tracks.

Construction for the viaduct cost $551,127. When the project was complete, it was hailed “as one of the major architectural and engineering improvements in the city’s history,” according to an article in The Advocate.

The viaduct was dedicated to the 67 Boyle County men who lost their lives during World War II and their names were placed on a bronze tablet and placed at one end of the structure.

P.H. Best, a local merchant and veteran of World War I and II, said the viaduct would be a living memorial to the men who sacrificed their lives in order that others might enjoy the freedom we have.

State Adjutant General Roscoe Murray also paid tribute to Kentucky soldiers who “have acquitted themselves like men.” He said they have figured in major battles in the nation’s history and especially the two World Wars.

“Let us remember,” he said, “that the finest tribute we can pay our hero dead is not a rose wreath in memory of the blood they shed, but the pledge to stand beside the principles they died to defend and preserve.”

Firing squads from Boyle Post 46, and Wallace Fisher Post, American Legion and Wilderness Post 6937, VFW, fired three volleys and taps sounded to conclude the program.

Mayor Henry Nichols was speaker. Representatives from state government, Southern Railway, Gold Star mothers, mayors from nearby counties plus hundreds of others people attended the ceremony.

Ed Estes, state highway department engineer who oversaw the construction, said Charlie Caldwell, a local businessman, was one of the project’s main advocates and helped determine the route of the viaduct by watching traffic patterns in the area.

Ground was broken for the bridge in November 1947. It was originally set to cost $150,000, but the tab ran up to more than $551,127 with the added costs of preparing approaches and securing the rights-of-way. City and county governments and Southern Railway paid for right of-way costs.