Today is the anniversary of the First Battle of Bull Run, and it’s a great time to highlight some preservation work completed earlier this year on an important landmark on Manassas National Battlefield. The Stone Bridge spans the Bull Run stream, and in 2017-2018, it received needed restoration.
Why is the bridge location important? Is this the actually bridge from 1861? What did the recent restoration project accomplish? Read on and start planning your visit…
On July 21, 1861, Union artillery located near Stone Bridge fired, beginning the first large-scale battle of the war. The bridge helps researchers and battlefielders find the “first shot” positions on this battle ground.
The original Stone Bridge – constructed around 1825 – remained intact through the first battle, but in 1862, Confederates wrecked it. That same year Union engineers built a wood bridge over the ruins, intending their new construction for temporary use. In the 1880’s, a bridge of stone was built on the original location and actively used by vehicles until the early 20th Century. This 1880’s Stone Bridge stands today and was the structure needing restoration.
As the decades past, Stone Bridge’s center pier suffered from erosion and the cement coating underneath the bridge was damaged. Damaged and missing stones also needed replacement. According to the National Park Service, the recent preservation work on Stone Bridge included stabilizing the foundation, repairing historic stone masonry, and repaving the surface. Contemporary methods and materials were used, but the historic bridge’s look has stayed the same.
Earlier this year, the restoration work was completed, and now Stone Bridge stands guard over the waters of Bull Run, silently and grandly marking an important location of “firsts” on this first large battlefield.
If you’d like to visit Stone Bridge, it is located off Highway 29 and is Stop 12 on the battlefield tour maps provided by the Park Service.