Blackfox bridge

KNOXVILLE – Hogskin Creek Bridge, a.k.a. Black Fox Bridge, has been named to the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) list of endangered heritage sites for 2020.

Each year the ETPA presents a list of endangered heritage sites in the program’s fifteen county region around Knoxville. The list is intended to remind property owners, community leaders and the public about how quickly important places can fade away due to neglect and the lack of a realistic plan for their preservation. Saving these historic places will conserve resources, maintain beautiful architecture, sustain the local economy, create jobs, grow heritage tourism, stabilize neighborhoods and keep the community connected with its shared history. 

Black Fox Bridge is a single-span metal truss bridge near Washburn and has been closed to vehicular traffic since 2009. Similar “Pratt Camelback” truss bridges are recognized under Criterion C as historically significant in other locations. 

Originally built in 1917 as the State Highway 33 bridge across the Clinch River, it was relocated to this site in 1935 when Norris Lake was created. The old bridge is slowly decaying with rusting steel and deteriorating wood decking. Despite safety issues, it continues to be a popular gathering place for locals. Supposedly, the bridge is haunted and legends of deaths, murders and suicides are part of local lore. The residents of Washburn were once proud of the new bridge and they could be again. Similar bridges have become popular social and outdoor destinations and ETPA recommends local leaders explore options for repairing and utilizing the bridge to add to the area’s recreation options. 

Raising awareness of both the importance of historic preservation and specifically threatened sites is why the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance produces the list of endangered heritage sites annually. It is also why the organization has developed “PLACES, the Preservation Toolbox for East Tennessee.” The Toolbox exists to assist with the process of developing viable solutions for saving endangered heritage and is available online at www.knoxheritage.org/etpa/toolbox. ETPA also issues regional preservation awards, promotes an annual preservation conference and assists with preservation technical issues. 

This year’s list revisits places featured on the 2019 list while adding a new site in Monroe County. ETPA encourages local communities to stay updated on the condition of endangered heritage sites and to openly discuss plans for building forward momentum.