The rail link between Tianjin and Nanjing’s Pukou district－the Tientsin-Pukow Railw
ay－was completed in 1912. But the two lines could not be connected because there was no bridge across the river.
According to the Academy of Sociology, which was founded by scholars from Nanjing Univers
ity, at least two structures－the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge and the Chongqing Baishatuo Yangtze
River Bridge－were built before the Nanjing structure. But neither was considered a landmark by the public.
In 1913, Zhan Tianyou, who was known as “the father of China’s railways”, traveled to Nan
jing to inspect the Yangtze riverbed to build a bridge. However, he dropped his plan because the river had an ave
rage width of 1,500 meters, was more than 70 meters at its deepest and the water flow was 3 meters per second.
Zhan reportedly stayed for a few days, left without saying a word, and then decided to inspe
ct the river in Wuhan, Hubei province, before completing the first design for the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge.