"Details of Bridge Over Aqueduct Piers"
By Alfred L. Rives, 1857
Ink and wash on paper
15" x 411/2" National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Office
of the Chief of Engineers
Potomac River Bridges: Aqueduct Bridge
The Aqueduct Bridge, built in 1833-44, was a wooden
structure that spanned the Potomac River near the site of the present
Key Bridge in Washington, DC. Its innovative two-story design allowed
Chesapeake and Ohio Canal barge traffic to use the lower water-filled
level to cross the Potomac River and continue along the Virginia branch
of the canal to the port of Alexandria. The upper level was reserved for
pedestrians, wagons, and carriages. This drawing by Alfred L. Rives, Army
Engineer in Charge, shows his 1857 proposal for replacing the original
wooden piers with masonry arches. The outbreak of the Civil War prevented
implementation of this improvement.