Highbridge: The Kentucky Underground Spring Water Company
When W.R. “Bill” Griffin began operations in Wilmore in the early 1980’s he was told the quarry wouldn’t be much good as a storage company unless he figured out some way of getting rid of that water in the back. Well, it took him a while to figure it out, but we think he came up with a pretty good idea – and we hope you agree.
In 1982 when Highbridge was just getting started it was a family operation. The “girls and Dad” would fill the gallon bottles – back then it was only gallon bottles, nothing else – then load the pickup truck. Daughters Linda and Mary would leave the quarry in High Bridge with the instructions from their Dad, “Don’t come back until you’ve sold all that water.”
At that time bottled water was unknown in Kentucky. There was a distilled product on the shelves of some stores for use in steam irons, but no stores were selling bottled drinking water. It took a brave store manager to put it on the shelf and certainly no one had home delivery back then so the stores were the only “big” customers.
In the early days Highbridge and especially the girls making the runs knew there were certain stores they could count on to take some of their drinking water. The funny thing is that we count several of those stores among our customers even today. The girls always knew they could count on Leonard and John Fitch at Fitch’s IGA in Wilmore to take “whatever was left on the pickup truck” when they were headed back to the quarry. Fitch’s IGA is still a good customer today. Laurel Grocery, one of the few independent wholesale grocery companies remaining, has been one of Highbridge’s strongest supporters for the full history of the company.
Over time the business grew to the point where today we count several thousand Kentuckians among our customers – homes, businesses and stores alike. But somehow it’s neat to know that some of those from the early days are still with us today. Highbridge is Kentucky Proud and Proud of Kentucky as well.
Highbridge's Sister: Kentucky Underground Storage
Some KUSI facts
Highbridge's Namesake: High Bridge
Our company, like the community of High Bridge, KY gets its name from a landmark railroad bridge which, at 308 feet tall, is the highest bridge over a navigable stream in the entire United States.
This railroad suspension bridge is considered one of the most remarkable engineering undertakings of the 19th century. High Bridge was designed by John Roebling, who also designed New York City’s Brooklyn Bridge, and connects Jessamine and Mercer Counties.
We thought our customers might be interested in High Bridge – the bridge. It has quite an interesting history, and the community around it has been closely allied with the fortunes of the bridge since construction first began. Originally planned as a suspension bridge for the Lexington and Danville railroad, it was designed by John Roebling, who later would design the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge and the Roebling Suspension Bridge which today connects Covington to Cincinnati. Work began in the 1850s with towers for the suspension cables being built during that time. Construction was suspended during the Civil War. Afterwards, plans were altered and construction was resumed by the Cincinnati Southern Railway and the bridge opened in 1877 as the first cantilever bridge built on the American continent.
It was dedicated by president Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879. The 275/308-foot tall and 1,125 foot long bridge crosses the deep gorge of the Kentucky River between Jessamine and Mercer counties. Being, at the time, the highest railroad bridge in North America and the highest railroad bridge in the world, High Bridge at once became a tourist attraction. Its popularity was at a peak during the first 20 years of the 1900s.
A new bridge was built around the existing structure in 1911, and expanded to two tracks in 1929. The same year, the large twin towers were torn down, and its popularity slowly faded. High Bridge still attracts interested parties who marvel at its amazing superstructure.
Other attractions in the area today are High Bridge Park, offering a lovely view of the confluence of the Kentucky and Dix Rivers, High Bridge Quarry and Lock #7.