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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Clarendon Bridge Company

by Jean B. Anderson, 2006

The Clarendon Bridge Company of Cumberland County was established in 1818 by legislative act for the purpose of building and maintaining a bridge across the Cape Fear River near Fayetteville (the company name came from an early name of the river). The General Assembly granted the power and authority for these operations to James Seawell and his associates (not named in the act) and further authorized them to collect tolls for passage over the bridge. As it did for ferries, inns, and taverns, the General Assembly set the rates. The highest toll was 75¢ for a four-wheeled pleasure carriage and the lowest 2.5¢ per head for hogs and sheep.

The Clarendon Bridge Company issued shares to finance the building of the bridge, which was completed in 1820. The largest shareholder, with 53 of the total 74 shares, was Ithiel Town, the illustrious New England engineer and architect, who used his original lattice truss plan (patented in 1820) to build the suspension bridge. Town is better known in North Carolina, however, as senior partner of the pioneer New York architectural firm of Town and Davis, whose work on the North Carolina State Capitol, completed in 1840, helped to create a neoclassical masterpiece.

The Clarendon Bridge, and presumably the company, survived until March 1865, when Gen. William J. Hardee's wing of the Confederate army burned the bridge to delay pursuing Union forces led by Gen. William T. Sherman.


John A. Oates, The Story of Fayetteville and the Upper Cape Fear (1972).


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HI, I noticed in the article you described the Town lattice truss as a suspension bridge. I no of no use of the suspension with the Town lattice truss. The Town lattice truss would be described as a wooden through truss.


Dear Royce,

Thank you for visiting NCpedia and taking time to share this clarification.  I am wondering if the article writer used the word "suspension" in the sense of historical "simple" suspension bridges that do not have vertical suspenders.

I do not find any surviving depictions of the Clarendon Bridge for clarification in the article.  If you know of any, please share them with us!

Thank you again and best wishes,

Kelly Agan, NC Government & Heritage Library 

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