These two bridges were massive targets during the Civil War. Due to Harpers Ferry's relative proximity to the capital, they made the town into an immensely valuable strategic location. Controlling the Harpers Ferry junction was an effective choke-point to the north or the south. During the three years of fighting, Harpers Ferry changed hands eight times and the wooden bridge was destroyed in 1861.
After the Civil War, two more bridges were constructed in 1894 and 1930 to accommodate the increasing weight of newer steam trains. The Bollman Truss bridge had been replaced with a new version in 1870, but it was washed away in a flood in 1936, leaving only the piers that used to hold it up. Both of the remaining bridges are now used by CSX for its Shenandoah (1894 bridge) and Cumberland (1930 bridge) Lines. The crossing was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.