The Worsham Street Bridge was built in 1928 by the Atlantic Bridge Company of Greensboro, North Carolina. Replacing a smaller iron-and-wood bridge from the early 1900s, it was an open-spandrel reinforced concrete arch bridge and one of the longest and tallest of this type designed by noted engineer Daniel B. Luten. The bridge helped relieve traffic congestion on the nearby Main Street Bridge and facilitated farmers getting their tobacco crops to the warehouses and processing facilities on the south side of the river. The bridge (and street) were named for William W. Worsham, whose grandfather Thomas Worsham was one of the founding fathers of Danville.
The bridge was the highest point above the Dan River and a familiar local landmark. It was significant in American engineering as an example of the large scale, multiple-span, open-spandrel reinforced concrete arch bridge construction that flourished between ca. 1910 and 1930. Following decades of deterioration and a series of weight load reductions, the iconic Worsham Street Bridge was closed to traffic in 2004 and demolished in 2009.
Daniel B. Luten (1869-1945) was based in Indianapolis, Indiana and was the most prolific designer and builder of concrete arch bridges in America during the first three decades of the 20th century. He was involved in the design of approximately 15,000 bridges throughout the United States. By the time of the publication of the 1937 "Who's Who In Engineering" Luten was the author of 100 technical articles and the holder of 52 patents in concrete bridge design, including several related to concrete arch construction.
Danville Tobacco Warehouse District developed south of the Dan River as a hub for tobacco manufacturing and distribution beginning in the late 18th century. Visible from this point at what was once the south end of the bridge are the late-19th century R.J. Reynolds tobacco warehouse (which featured a landing and entrance directly off the bridge) to the immediate east and the 1912 Municipal Power Station to the west. The district contains approximately 585 buildings related to the development of Danville's tobacco enterprise. Officially called the Danville Tobacco Warehouse and Residential Historic District, it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
Worsham Street Bridge Facts
>> Named after William W. Worsham
>> Type: Open-spandrel concrete arch bridge
>> Spanned: Dan River, U.S. Route 58
>> Designer: Daniel B. Luten, Engineer
>> Builder: Atlantic Bridge Company
>> Completed: October 1928
>> Number of spans: 10
>> Length: 1,151 ft
>> Longest span: 136 feet
>> Shortest span: 59 ft
>> Width: 36 ft Height: 49 ft
>> Demolished: 2009