The Abandoned Stretches of Tennessee State Route 211

Derelict sections of Tennessee State Route 211 in Dyer County. (Image: Pepper6181. Derelict sections of Tennessee State Route 211)

Abandoned stretches of American highways and byways have an eerie desolation about them, and the long-disused sections of Tennessee State Route 211 are no exception. Especially poignant are the derelict bridges that dot the route; structures that may themselves be forgotten, but the memories of those for whom they’re named live on. One example is the Adkison Memorial Bridge just south of Obion, TN.

(Image: Pepper6181)

According to BridgeHunter, the Adkison Memorial Bridge was built in the late 1920s as one of 17 toll bridges on the 17 mile SR211 highway in western Tennessee’s Dyer County. It was constructed across the Obion River near the eponymous rural community of Obion.

Adkison Memorial Bridge and former route of Route 211 (Image: Bing Maps. Adkison Memorial Bridge and former route of Route 211)

BridgeHunter writes: “This is one of seventeen toll bridges that the State of Tennessee erected in the late 1920s. About two-thirds were named for World War I veterans, of which six (including this bridge) were named for WWI veterans who won the Congressional Medal of Honor. This route was originally State Route 3, the Jefferson Davis Highway, and later US 51 before becoming State Route 211.”

(Image: Pepper6181)

A context study carried out by the Tennessee Department of Transportation (pdf) on the state’s toll bridges says it was the fifth of the bridges to be built, and the tolls were removed in 1947. The Obion bridge remained free to cross until the construction of the nearby State Route 3 (US 51) led to its abandonment in 1990. But the disused bridge still stands not only as a reminder of another era, but of the extraordinary heroism of one Tennessee man.

Medal of Honor recipient Joseph B. Adkison (Image: US Army. Medal of Honor recipient Joseph B. Adkison)

Joseph Bernard Adkison was born in 1892. Twenty-seven years later, on December 31, 1919, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during World War One. Born in Shelby County, Adkison grew up in western Tennessee as the son of a single mother. In 1917, he joined the US Army’s Company C, 119th Infantry, 30th “Old Hickory” Division.

Southern approach to derelict Adkison Memorial Bridge on SR211 (Image: Pepper6181. Southern approach to derelict Adkison Memorial Bridge)

In 1918, the then-sergeant and his platoon were near Bellicourt, France, when they were pinned down by heavy fire. Adkison – alone – charged the German machine gun nest, kicked over the weapon and captured its operators, allowing his platoon to advance as a result.

(Image: Pepper6181)

Today, the abandoned stretch of Tennessee’s State Route 211 is maintained by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, and still serves as access to the CM Gooch Wildlife Management Area. The disused highway also reflects the bravery of men like Joseph B. Adkison, keeping their important personal stories alive as the decades march on.

(Image: Pepper6181)

Related: 10 Haunting Abandoned Bridges and Viaducts to Nowhere


About the author: Debra Kelly




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