Ashley River Bridges — Charleston, South Carolina
SC Picture Project | Charleston County | Ashley River Bridges
The historic Ashley River Bridges cross the Ashley River in Charleston. The first bridge, pictured on the left, opened in 1926 and is dedicated to the South Carolina soldiers who died during World War I. It is known as the Ashley River Memorial Bridge and is one of four remaining drawbridges in our state.
The one-way span connects Spring Street in downtown Charleston to both Savannah Highway and Saint Andrews Boulevard in West Ashley. It is 1,733 feet long and 34.1 feet wide, and its largest span stretches 158.1 feet.
The second bridge, on the right, is also a drawbridge and was added in 1961 to accommodate the growing traffic between the Charleston peninsula and West Ashley. It is part of Savannah Highway (US 17). The bascule bridge stretches 1633.9 feet in full, with its largest span extending 160.1 feet. The deck is 40 feet wide.
This span is formally known as the T. Allen Legare Bridge, named in honor of Thomas Allen Legare, Jr., who died in 2010. A lawyer by profession, Legare served in South Carolina’s statehouse from 1947 to 1948 and from 1951 to 1953. He then served in the South Carolina state senate from 1953 to 1966.
Both Ashley River Bridges stand near the mouth of the Ashley River where it joins with the Cooper River to form the Charleston Harbor. The Ashley River, and the Cooper River for that matter, are named after Anthony Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury, who was one of Carolina’s eight Lords Proprietors and owned a barony of 12,000 acres upon the Ashley River’s shores.
The river begins in western Berkeley County near Wassamassaw and passes many historic plantations along the way, including Drayton Hall, Magnolia Gardens, and Middleton Place. Cash crops grown on these plantations were primarily indigo, cotton, and rice, with rice being most popular due to the river’s tides and brackish water. Two other well-known historic landmarks that stand on the banks of the Ashley are Jenkins Orphanage in North Charleston and Colonial Dorchester State Historic Site in Summerville.
Historical Photos of the Ashley River Bridge
Moveable Bridges in South Carolina
UPDATE: Since this list was created, the Wando River Swing Bridge between Charleston and Berkeley counties has been replaced by a fixed-span bridge. These are the only moveable bridges left in our state: