Covington Waterworks Bridge

The Covington Waterworks Bridge carried a 24-inch water main over the Licking River between Covington and Wilder, Kentucky.


The Covington Waterworks Bridge was designed to carry a 24-inch water main across the Licking River, connecting Covington and Latonia in Kentucky. In 1908, 4 the Covington Water Works proposed the construction of an additional water line to back up an existing 30-inch main that was experiencing leaks due to the vibrations from heavy trains on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Bridge. 2 3 4 5

By December 1914, Consulting Engineer J. W. Hill recommended the construction of a new water line, estimated to cost $200,000, to be placed under the Licking River near the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Bridge. 2 3 4 Following the passage of a $200,000 bond issue, 10 the project received approval from the Secretary of War in April 1916. 9 Subsequently, the Licking River Free Traffic Bridge Association proposed that the new water line should be part of a bridge that would also accommodate automobile and pedestrian traffic, a plan that gained popularity. 5 8

In September 1916, Covington voters were asked to approve the allocation of $40,000 to help fund the bridge’s construction, which would also involve building approaches and connections to city streets and the Newport, Licking & Alexandria Turnpike. 6

Contracts for the construction of the bridge were awarded to two companies: the Argonia Bridge Company of Lebanon, Ohio, received the contract for the superstructure at a cost of $25,373, while the D. P. Foley Company of Cincinnati was selected for the substructure work at a cost of $18,324. 16

The construction of the bridge started in May 1917, 12 overseen by Public Property Commissioner J. Mason Howk, Engineer George Hornung, and Inspector of Material William Schuler. 7 The Oregonia Bridge Company began the erection of the steel structure, 5 which was expected to be finished by October 1. 10 However, on the night of September 7, 1917, the nearly finished bridge was destroyed by a rapid rise in the Licking River, which increased by 15 feet in two hours, washing away the temporary framework that was scheduled to be dismantled just three days later, leading to the collapse of the bridge and the loss of construction equipment.

The washed-out span was rebuilt by December 11 and put into service in January 1918. That February, the city of Newport asked permission from Covington city commissioners to erect a stairway from the end of the Newport approach to the bridge for pedestrians so that they could cross the river for free. 13 It ultimately was not built because of access issues.

A bid from Jay E. Harris to surface the bridge at the cost of $3,750 was accepted in July 1952, 1 which was completed in 1955. 14

In the 1970s, the Covington Waterworks Bridge was abandoned and its approaches were dismantled. 15 In 2015, the city of Covington sought a $1 million grant from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. This funding was intended for the bridge’s rehabilitation, repurposing it for pedestrian and cyclist use as part of the Licking River Greenway Trail. This project aimed to connect the Latonia neighborhood of Covington with Frederick’s Landing in Wilder. The Northern Kentucky Water District agreed to donate the bridge to this project if the grant application was successful.




  1. “Commissioners’ Resolution No. R-176-52.” Kentucky Post and Times-Star, 25 Jul. 1952, p. 11.
  2. “Water Main To Be Laid In Licking.” Kentucky Post and Times-Star, 15 Dec. 1914, p. 1.
  3. “Water Main From Latonia Is Indorsed.” Kentucky Post and Times-Star, 4 Dec. 1914, p. 1.
  4. “Emergency Reservoir Advocated.” Kentucky Post and Times-Star, 21 Jul. 1908, p. 2.
  5. “Water-Main Bridge Wrecked in Storm.” Kentucky Post, 8 Sept. 1917, p. 1.
  6. “Commissioners’ Ordinance No. 566.” Kentucky Post, 25 Sept. 1916, p. 2.
  7. “Views Showing Progress On Water Main Bridge.” Kentucky Post, 6 Jan. 1917, p. 1.
  8. “Many Suggestions For Improvements Made in Covington.” Kentucky Post, 24 Aug. 1916, p. 1.
  9. “U.S. Approves Bridge Plan.” Kentucky Post, 3 Apr. 1916, p. 1.
  10. “Main Ready Oct. 1.” Kentucky Post, 5 Aug. 1916, p. 3.
  11. “Water Main Bridge Again Spans River.” Kentucky Post, 5 Dec. 1917, p. 2.
  12. “Rush Work on Water Main Bridge.” Kentucky Post, 22 May 1917, p. 2.
  13. “Free Bridge Over Licking is Proposed.” Kentucky Post, 14 Feb. 1918, p. 1.
  14. “People’s Ticket Cites Points of City Record.” Kentucky Post, 22 Sept. 1955, pp. 1-25.
  15. Wartman, Scott. “Bridge rehab could draw visitors to Licking River trail.” Enquirer, 16 Sept. 2015.
  16. “Classified News of Construction Work.” The Contractor, 1 Feb. 1916, p. 66.

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