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The National Road - Maryland - Jug Bridge Memorial Park

For over 130 years, from 1808 to 1942, a very unique stone arch bridge carried everything from horse and buggy, Civil War troops, and finally automobiles over the Monocacy River just east of Frederick.  The bridge's most unique feature, and what would give the bridge its name, was the jug shaped stone demijohn on the east banks of the Monocacy.  The bridge was built in 1808 during the construction of the Baltimore-Frederick Turnpike - a precursor to the National Road and eventually US 40.   In 1824, the Marquis de LaFayette was greeted by Fredericktonians at the bridge upon his return to the area.  The Jug Bridge would see action in the Civil War during the Battle of Monocacy in July 1864.  At the time of battle, the bridge was under Union control and was attacked by Confederate troops hoping to move closer to Washington as a way to divert some of Ulysses S. Grant's troops from the Petersburg campaign. (1)

The Jug Bridge and US 40 in 1933. (A.S. Burns / Library of Congress)
The bridge 425 foot long bridge consisted of four 65 foot stone arch spans. (2)  As the widespread use of the automobile grew, stress on the bridge became more evident. During the 1920 - 30s, concerns over the bridge's condition would be voiced.  Finally, on March 3rd, 1942, one of the arches along with a 65 foot section of the bridge collapsed into the river.    While a new concrete open spandrel bridge was being built directly to its south, a temporary wooden bridge was built to cross the collapsed section and allow vehicles to continue to use the highway. (2)  Just over 10 years later in 1955, a second parallel structure to the new bridge would open allowing for four lanes of US 40 traffic to cross the Monocacy.  Later to the north, another bridge would be built carrying Interstate 70 and US 40 over the river.  After the replacement bridge opened in 1944, the Jug Bridge was torn down though the demijohn monument remained.  Years after the collapse of the bridge, the "jug" and a stone monument to General LaFayette were moved to a park about two miles west of their original location.

The Jug Bridge Monument at its current home. (Doug Kerr)
Today, the "jug" sits at the Jug Bridge Memorial Park just off of Interstate 70 and Maryland Route 144 at Exit 56. For centuries, a local rumor was that a jug of whiskey was placed inside the monument by those building the bridge.  As a result of planned expansion of the Frederick Municipal Airport, the City of Frederick is considering moving the bridge to a new home.

Detail of the Jug Monument (Doug Kerr)
Detail of the Marquis de LaFayette monument at Jug Bridge Memorial Park (Doug Kerr)

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