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Cable Suspension Bridges

Cable suspension bridges vary in kind according to the material of which the cables are made: rattan, bamboo, leather and iron chain. According to historical records, 285 B.C. saw the zha bridge (bamboo cable bridge). Li Bin of the Qin State, who guarded Shu (256 -251 B.C.), superintended the establishment of 7 bridges in Gaizhou (now Chengdu, Sichuan Province), one of which was built of bamboo cables.

The iron-chain bridge is said to date as far back as the early time of the Western Han Dynasty. Senior General Fan Kuai superintended the construction of the Fanhe Bridge (206 B.C.) on the ancient plank road in Maocheng County (now Liuba County), Shanxi Province; and the bridge is believed to be of iron chain. In historical records there is a clear reference to the iron chains across the Yangtze River. In A.D. 280, the army of Kingdom Wu, when attacked by the Western Jin, threw several iron chains across the mouth of the Xilin Gorge, one of the three gorges of the Yangtze River, to block away the enemy ships.

The Jihong Bridge at Yongping County, Yunnan Province, is the oldest and broadest bridge with the most iron chains in China today. Spanning the Lanchang River, it is 113.4m long, 4.1 m wide and 57.3m in clear span. There are 16 bottom chains and a hand rail chain on each side. The bridge is situated -on the ancient road leading to India and Burma.

The Luding Iron-chain Bridge in Sichuan Province, the most exquisite of the extant bridges of the same type, spans the Dadu River and has served as an important link between Sichuan Province and Tibet. The bridge was believed to be set up by Tianquanzhou bridge-builders who were noted for making iron chains. Its erection began in the 4th year of the reign of Kangxi (A.D. 1705) of the Qing Dynasty and was completed in the following year. It is 100m in clear span, 2.8m in width, with boards laid on the bottom chains. There are 9 bottom chains, each about 128 meters long, and 2 hand-rail chains on each side. On each bank, there is a stone abutment, whose dead weight balances the pulling force of the iron chains. The Luding Bridge is included in the first group of major cultural relics under state protection. 

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