Retired Tenn. news anchor hopes to preserve history of bridges through photography

Published: Feb. 4, 2021 at 3:18 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 25, 2021 at 3:29 PM EST
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - For a former Knoxville TV news anchor, life stands still.

It’s not video he’s interested in anymore, but still photography and bridges across America.

“Let’s go bridge hunting,” said Calvin Sneed as he strapped on his GoPro, a digital camera and a safety vest. ”Instead of a shotgun you carry a camera and you go hunting for big game for that right there,” he said, pointing to a bridge in the distance.

His latest work captured the William Lewallen Bridge which spans the Clinch River. Built in 1940, Sneed said he’s worried it’s a dying piece of Americana.

“This is part of this city’s heritage and to tear them down means you’ve given up a part of history,” he said.

Sneed has been bridge hunting for more than 20 years. He’s captured 900 bridges and taken thousands of photos.

The hunt has taken him on a journey all across the US.

”Let’s not limit it to the state, the southeast, the south, the midwest,” he said. “There’s something about the elegance of it, they stand against the sky, they are relics of our past.”

You might remember Calvin Sneed as the news anchor from Chattanooga. He read the news for a couple of decades.

Now retired, his hobby became his passion.

“I’m looking for the architecture, the way it was built, how it was bolted together,” said Sneed.

But with a new bridge under construction over the Clinch River, the Lewallen Bridge is facing extinction. Amy Wood said she finds that prospect troubling.

“It’s sad, it’s a landmark, it’s been here all my life,” said Wood.

Calvin Sneed said he hopes his photography will serve as a way to preserve the bridge’s history.

“When you stop and think about it, you’re helping to preserve history, it’s not going to be here very much longer but you’re preserving it in pictures. At least you’re saving it that way,” said Sneed.

Sneed has published a number of books that feature his photography which are available for purchase at some local book stores.

His work can also be found on Facebook.

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