Potomac Creek Bridge

Potomac Creek Bridge (HMS7)

Location: Fredericksburg, VA 22405
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 21.401', W 77° 24.533'

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"Beanpoles and Cornstalks"

The mounds of earth beside you and the stone blocks protruding from it are all that remain of the south abutment of a bridge that once carried the Richmond, Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad across Potomac Creek. During the first year of the Civil War, the railroad was the principal lifeline for Confederate encampments and batteries located along the nearby shore of the Potomac River. In the spring of 1862, Gen. Joseph E. Johnston ordered Confederate forces to abandon the area. Advancing Union troops encountered only the ruins of the bridge here at Potomac Creek.

Over the next three years, the Union army built as many as four railroad bridges atop this same abutment. In May 1862, engineer Herman Haupt supervised unskilled Union infantrymen in harvesting two million feet of local lumber to construct the first of these structures, accomplishing this task in just nine days. During a visit to the Fredericksburg area, President Abraham Lincoln led Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren on a walk across the 80-foot-high, 400-foot-long span. Stanton became dizzy while crossing the bridge and only finished the walk by holding onto Dahlgren's hand.

Around 1899, the south abutment and its approaching right-of-way (now occupied by the county road that you followed to get here) were abandoned. The railroad and bridge were shifted to their present locations at that time.

"I have seen the most remarkable structure that human eyes ever rested upon. That man Haupt has built a bridge across Potomac Creek, about 400 feet long and nearly 100 feet high, over which loaded trains are running every hour, and, upon my word, gentlemen, there is nothing in it but beanpoles and cornstalks." —Abraham Lincoln

(caption under main picture) The Potomac Creek Bridge (under Union control), ca. February 1863, looking across the creek from a viewpoint located just down the slope in front of you.

(caption to the right of the portrait of Herman Haupt) A genius of innovation, Herman Haupt rebuilt the bridge over Potomac Creek in just nine days utilizing mostly local materials.

(caption to the right of the small bridge picture) The Potomac Creek Bridge in May or June 1863, looking across the creek from a viewpoint atop the abutment beside you. Note the wartime blockhouse in the center background and the prewar buildings in the right background.
HM NumberHMS7
Series This marker is part of the Virginia Civil War Trails series
Placed ByCivil War Trails
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, September 13th, 2014 at 8:42am PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)18S E 289520 N 4248137
Decimal Degrees38.35668333, -77.40888333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 21.401', W 77° 24.533'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 21' 24.06" N, 77° 24' 31.98" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)540
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 711-739 Co Rd 625, Fredericksburg VA 22405, US
Alternative Maps Google Maps, MapQuest, Bing Maps, Yahoo Maps, MSR Maps, OpenCycleMap, MyTopo Maps, OpenStreetMap

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