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This 1953 photo shows the Market Street Bridge opening for a dredge headed to Hiwassee Island in Meigs Couty. It appeared on the front page of the Chattanooga News-Free Press on Feb. 12, 1953. Photo by Bob Sherrill courtesy of ChattanoogaHistory.com.

On Feb. 12, 1953, a large dredge passing under the Market Street Bridge was the focus of a photo on the front page of the Chattanooga News-Free Press.

According to the caption on the photo taken by staff photographer Bob Sherrill, the dredge was "capable of digging 300 tons an hour and going to a depth of 57 feet."

The report noted the dredge was owned by the Dixie Sand and Gravel Co. and that it was headed to the Hiwassee Island area to dig for raw materials to be used by the Bowater Southern Paper Corp. Hiwassee Island is in Meigs County, about 35 miles northeast of Chattanooga.

Early blueprints of the Market Street Bridge, built from 1914-1917, note that the drawbridge section of the span was almost 300 feet long, the length of a football field.

Other articles on the front page of the News-Free Press on Feb. 12, 1953, included an update on fighting in the Korean conflict, which ended about five months later, and a report on a deadly boat fire at sea near Tokyo, Japan. Closer to home, an Athens, Tennessee, businessman bought an old McMinn County jail building (built in 1870) for $55,700, the newspaper reported.

ChattanoogaHistory.com, a website featuring this and other photos in the "Remember When, Chattanooga" series, says the steel and concrete Market Street Bridge was the longest of its kind in the world at the time it was built.

Originally dubbed the "Million Dollar Bridge" it was constructed in a novel way. According to the National Register of Historic places, the workers on both shores prepared 20-gallon buckets of concrete that were transported by cables linked to two, 200-foot towers on the north and south bank of the river.

History notes that flooding during construction of the bridge caused delays — and cost overruns — contributing to the forced resignation of the consulting engineer on the project.

The Market Street Bridge was reopened in 2007 after a renovation that spanned parts of three years. In 2010, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Follow the "Remember When, Chattanooga?" public group on Facebook.

Remember When is published on Saturdays. Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

ChattanoogaHistory.com

Launched by history enthusiast Sam Hall in 2014, ChattanoogaHistory.com is maintained to present historical images in the highest resolution available.

If you have photo negatives, glass plate negatives, or original non-digital prints taken in the Chattanooga area, contact Sam Hall for information on how they may qualify to be digitized and preserved at no charge.

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