6a The First Bridge 1924 1926 SC 9 Over Catawba River Fredrick Amzi Triplett Contractor Small Triplett Lancaster to Chester

“This unique SC 9 over Catawba River bridge honors three generations of Chester County Bridgebuilders from Fredrick Amzi Triplett, in 1926, to James T. Triplett in 1975 and to James E. Triplett in 2017. “

The history of the construction of the bridges carrying SC Hwy 9 over the Catawba River at the Chester/Lancaster County line in Fort Lawn, SC is a unique, multi-generational story in the history of South Carolina and the bridge building industry in the southeast.
In 1924, F. A. Triplett, Sr., (a native of Chester, SC) partnered with R. H. Small to form Small & Triplett Construction Co. in Chester, SC. That same year, they were awarded their first contract with the then South Carolina Highway Department to build a new two-lane bridge to carry SC Hwy 9 over the Catawba River. This riveted steel beam structure was completed in 1926 and replaced a ferry that carried automobiles across the river. F. A. Triplett, Sr. passed away in 1962 with recognition from his contemporaries as a pioneer in the bridge construction industry and a man of great integrity.
50 years later in 1975, his son, James T. (Tom) Triplett of Triplett-Ryan, Inc. (also a Chester native), completed a second parallel bridge across the Catawba River for the South Carolina Department of Highways and Public Transportation. At that time, the original 1926 bridge was reconfigured to carry two southbound lanes of traffic while the new 1975 bridge was designed to carry two new northbound lanes of traffic between Chester and Lancaster counties. Of note is that of the attendees at the dedication of the new southbound bridge in 1976 to F. A. Triplett, Sr. included F. A. Triplett, Jr., and James E. Triplett, the 11-year-old son of James T. (Tom) Triplett, who would follow in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps. Tom Triplett passed away in 1992, and, like his father, he was respected by his contemporaries for his contribution to the construction industry.
James E. (Jim) Triplett carries on the legacy of his father James T. (Tom) Triplett, his uncle Fred A. Triplett Jr, and his grandfather Fred A Triplett, Sr, and united the prior bridge building companies into a single successful design-build group still headquartered in Chester County. In 2015, some 90 years after the original bridge contract was completed and 40 years after the subsequent bridge contract, Jim Triplett of United Infrastructure Group, Inc. was awarded a contract by the SCDOT to design and build a new bridge to replace his grandfather’s 1926 southbound bridge across the Catawba River beside his father’s 1975 northbound bridge. The 90-year-old riveted steel beam bridge was demolished in 2016 and the new precast concrete beam bridge was completed in 2017.