Stress corrosion is the major failure type of bridge cable damage. The acoustic emission (AE) technique was applied to monitor the stress corrosion process of steel wires used in bridge cable structures. The damage evolution of stress corrosion in bridge cables was obtained according to the AE characteristic parameter figure. A particle swarm optimization cluster method was developed to determine the relationship between the AE signal and stress corrosion mechanisms. Results indicate that the main AE sources of stress corrosion in bridge cables included four types: passive film breakdown and detachment of the corrosion product, crack initiation, crack extension, and cable fracture. By analyzing different types of clustering data, the mean value of each damage pattern's AE characteristic parameters was determined. Different corrosion damage source AE waveforms and the peak frequency were extracted. AE particle swarm optimization cluster analysis based on principal component analysis was also proposed. This method can completely distinguish the four types of damage sources and simplifies the determination of the evolution process of corrosion damage and broken wire signals.