This image of High Bridge showed up recently on Shorpy, a blog dedicated to historical photos. (Click on the photograph for a larger view.) Located a few miles east of Farmville in Prince Edward County, the bridge crosses the Appomattox River (and valley) and was built in 1852 for the Southside Railroad run from Petersburg to Lynchburg. It’s big—originally 2,500 feet long and 126 feet high, nowadays it’s about as long and actually taller at 160 feet. (That’s fifteen to sixteen stories tall!) In April of 1865, when this photograph was taken by Timothy H. O’Sullivan, the bridge was the site of a clash between Union and Confederate forces playing out the endgame of surrender.
One of the things I love about Shorpy is the comments. Readers dissect these photos but also provide context. For instance, one reader recalls that 800 Union troops were captured at the battle, while another tells about the bridge today:
I went to Longwood College in Farmville and I am very familiar with this bridge. It is still in use by the railroad companies. Over the years, many people have lost their lives from being on the bridge when the trains come through . . . so . . . some people suggest it is haunted!
There certainly is something sad and haunted about this particular image . . . But does this mean that a new state park would also be haunted?