The Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass is commonly known as the 11-foot-8 Bridge and... The Can Opener. But more on that later. This railroad bridge in Durham, North Carolina, was built in 1940 and allows passenger and freight trains to cross over South Gregson Street in downtown Durham and like its first nickname suggests, its clearance for vehicles was 11 feet 8 inches (3.56 m). This was a standard height at the time it opened. But the standard clearance since 1973 has a minimum height of 14 feet (4.27 m).
Despite numerous warning signs yelling just how low the clearance of this bridge was, a large number of trucks, buses, and RVs have collided with the overpass at high speed, tearing off roof fixtures, and at times shearing off the trucks' roofs. That's what earned the bridge its second nickname, The Can Opener. Some people even call it the "Gregson Street Guillotine". In October 2019, the North Carolina Railroad Company, which owns the bridge and tracks, raised the bridge by 8 inches (0.2 m) to 12 feet 4 inches (3.76 m) to reduce collisions.
The bridge gained fame in 2008, when a nearby office worker, Jürgen Henn, set up cameras to track the collisions with the bridge. As of October 2020, Henn has recorded over 150 accidents, and has a YouTube channel to showcase them. His project even expanded to other Internet platforms. Thus, the subreddit r/11foot8 was born.
Eventually, however, the subreddit evolved—it now features vehicles colliding with structures all over the world. Here are some of its top posts.
Bored Panda got in touch with the moderators of the subreddit and Loonling was happy to share their thoughts. Since they have seen so many photos of drivers overestimating the clearance of a bridge, we asked why do they think this is. "My suspicion is that most of us are complacent in our day-to-day life," Loonling said. "The modern world is safe and secure. We go about our days assuming the stoplights are going to work; that the road will be relatively free of potholes; the bridge will support our vehicle. For many, it does not enter in their thoughts that a trestle is a threat."
"Sure there's signage. Sure there's a flashing light. But, they're so wrapped up in the comfort and security of the modern road that they're not even really thinking about the fact that they're an exception to the rule. So, when the light flashes "oversize" (or whatever), while they may see it, it doesn't instantly seem applicable to them. How could it? They made it this far without incident. I think it's just a problem of the danger the bridge is to their situation just doesn't filter down to their monkey brain that's been lulled into complacency."
Thought This Fit Well Here
Since the subreddit has expanded and welcomes photos from all over the world now, it's only appropriate to mention a few infamous bridges that are opening some high-speed cans as well. The moderator said there's a huge number of them; they can't even keep track. The members of the subreddit keep finding them. "I think 2 other bridges are well known [in particular]. These two also have Reddit communities and an active fan club. r/3rdandWinklervsTrucks and r/thecanopener. 4 years ago, these two subs were larger than r/11foot8. But, I think they lack the 24/7 camera feed and the great marketing that Jurgen has put together for the [Durham bridge]."
New Mini Golf In Durham Honors It's Famous 11'8" Bridge
"In the fall of 2016, I noticed that r/11foot8 was not being actively moderated. At the time, there were fewer than 100 members. But, I knew of the bridge from the YouTube channel, and had been sharing the videos with my young children for a couple of years. They enjoyed the chaos and destruction as these huge trucks would crash into this immoveable bridge. It was great family entertainment for us. And as an avid collector of Reddit subscriptions, I keep a running list of subreddits I discover that are unmoderated or under-moderated. If I feel inclined, and the admins are kind enough to assign ownership to me, I jump in to rid the sub of spam, trolls, and try to build up a subreddit that represents the type of content I'd like to see. So, as I said, I took the sub over in September 2016 and at the time felt that a [community of 500 members] was probably achievable."
You See What Happens When You Rush To Be In Somebody Else's Business
Now, there are over 80,000 of them. From day 1 of Loonling's involvement, the subreddit has always welcomed similar bridges. And the moderator thinks maybe that's what has made it a bit more successful compared to the two others mentioned earlier. "I felt that relying exclusively on videos from the Durham bridge was too limiting."
"I hope our members feel a sense of community, but frankly, I don't think it's here," Loonling said. "People subscribe because of Jurgen. He does such a great job providing great videos, capturing the collision from the moments leading up to impact to the resolution. And getting it from two different angles!"
Hungry Bridge In Enid, Oklahoma
I Too Take The Top Off My Oreos Before I Eat Them
Delivering A Bridge
What Makes It Funnier Is That This Isn’t Even The Route The Bus Is Meant To Take
Found On Street View
He Made It All The Way Through
Meanwhile In Chicago
Pretty Effective Bridge Protection!
I Work For FedEx. One Of Our Trucks Came In Like This
I Don’t Understand People. “Oh This Truck Is About To Hit That Sign, Let Me Just Continue Follow Him”
If The Bridge It Is Too Low, You Don't Have To Take It Slow. Lay The Truck Down On The Side, Underneath The Bridge You'll Slide
11foot8 In Indianapolis. Truck Was Full Of Cream Cheese
I Fought The Bridge And The Bridge Won
This Low Overpass Knocked The Streetview Camera Off Its Mount
Scalped! A Whole Level Beyond Can Opener!
Brand New Jeep
Note: this post originally had 66 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.