A cantilevered Warren through truss bridge spanning the Mississippi River on US Highway 84 connects Natchez, Mississippi with Vidalia, Louisiana. Mississippi’s project # 1126 opened to traffic on September 26, 1940 after two years of construction (Mississippi Department of Archives & History). It originally operated as a toll bridge.
The toll plaza remains on the Natchez side of the river, and although the toll booths have been removed, the semi-circular wooden columns that surrounded the plaza remain. A commemorative tower and plaque, identical to the one at the toll plaza, stands just before the bridge entrance in Vidalia. A second bridge was built, parallel to the original, in 1988 in order to handle the increased traffic. The original PWA bridge carries traffic from Natchez to Vidalia, and the new bridge carries the traffic from Vidalia across the river to Natchez.
Prior to completion of the bridge in 1940, ferries operated to connect the two towns. In 1939, the entire town of Vidalia was relocated by WPA workers and moved six blocks inland in a federal flood control project (www.crt.state.la.us). WPA workers laid out the street design, and built streets and sidewalks, and moved more than 100 homes and businesses by jacking them and transporting them on rollers. Other buildings were demolished.
Natchez Mississippi River Bridge. Mississippi Department of Archives & History. Historic Resources Inventory database. www.crt.state.la.us/hp/nationalregister/nhl/parish15/scans/15012001.pdf. https://misspreservation.com/2013/04/23/dedicated-to-the-people-natchez-vidalia-bridge/
Project originally submitted by Susan Allen on March 26, 2013.
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My papaw (James Graves) was one of the two men that fell off the bridge while working on the construction crew around 1939. He survived after falling onto some pilings and another man was impaled with a rod but he also survived. I was trying to find a newspaper article from that year that may have the write up about what happened.