The first bridge to cross the Potomac in the Washington area was constructed in 1797 when Georgetown merchants built the “Falls Bridge” at the “Little Falls.”
The bridge was built to replace ferry service and was primarily used to drive cattle across to the Georgetown auction markets after the cattle had drunk heavily at Pimmit Run.
There have been eight bridges built on this site. The original one was a covered wooden structure that collapsed in 1804, and the second was destroyed by floods after only 6 months. In 1810, a third bridge was constructed that was truly a “Chain Bridge,” the name by which all subsequent bridges have been known.
Read more about how the Chain Bridge got its name on Our Back Pages