12 votes

Crescent Bridge


From the Illinois bank looking north

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in Sept. 07


BH Photo #127556

Street Views 


Camelback through truss bridge over Mississippi River on BNSF/CP/IC&E/DM&E Railroad in Davenport
Rock Island, Scott County, Iowa, and Rock Island County, Illinois
Open to traffic
Built 1898, Iowa Approach Added 1905
- Charles Frederick Loweth of Cleveland, Ohio (Chief Engineer)
- Phoenix Bridge Co. of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
- Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Canadian Pacific Railway (CP)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
- Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (MILW)
- Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern Railroad (DME)
- Davenport, Rock Island, & Northwestern Railroad (DRI)
- Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (ICE)
Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 442.0 ft.
Total length: 2,383.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Also called
Crescent Rail Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.51138, -90.59451   (decimal degrees)
41°30'41" N, 90°35'40" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/700741/4598321 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Davenport East
Inventory number
BH 38083 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 13, 2019: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • December 16, 2017: New photos from Luke
  • August 8, 2017: New Street View added by Luke
  • April 16, 2017: New photos from David Sebben
  • March 29, 2015: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • March 16, 2014: New photos from Luke Harden
  • July 27, 2013: New Street View added by Dave King
  • October 21, 2012: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • August 10, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad"
  • May 27, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • April 19, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Corrected build date, builder, & engineer as per information on the plaque
  • January 28, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Curved"
  • November 14, 2008: Added by Nathan Morton



Crescent Bridge
Posted March 29, 2015, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Photographed this bridge this weekend. Absolutely a stunning structure, and one of the most beautiful I've ever had the pleasure of documenting..

Crescent Bridge
Posted March 16, 2014, by David Sebben (nebbes61 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

An aerial view of the swingspan of the Crescent Bridge in its open position, allowing barge traffic to pass.

Crescent Bridge
Posted March 16, 2014, by David Sebben (nebbes61 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The 'born on' date for the Crescent Bridge.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted May 30, 2012, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

That bridge was the predecessor to the Arsenal Bridge( listed here: http://bridgehunter.com/il/rock-island/first/ ), NOT the Crescent Bridge.

Crescent Rail Bridge's Predecessors
Posted May 30, 2012, by Bob Davis (bobdaviscfi [at] earthlink [dot] net)

“The Chicago & Rock Island was bold enough to build a wooden bridge of Howe truss type, five spans and draw, at Davenport in 1853, and completed in 1856. F. J. Nevens, valuation engineer of the present Rock Island system, uncovered the story of the war between the steamboat interests and the Mississippi & Missouri Railroad, precipitated by the bridge building. The bridge was built in the face of powerful opposition and a prohibitive ruling by Jefferson Davis, Secretary of War, for it crossed a government reservation.”

The steamboat Effie Afton was on her first trip going north from St. Louis “on the morning of May 16th – 14 days after the crossing of the first train – when the steamboat proceeded some 200 feet above the draw, and then, one of her (two) side wheels stopping, she swung against the bridge.” The boat caught fire, burning the bridge span above where she struck the pier. Of course a lawsuit followed as the Louisville-New Orleans Packet Company sued for damages with “the case was docketed as Hurd vs. Railroad Bridge Company and was tried before Justice John McLean in the (U S) Circuit Court, September 1857.

“A strong and popular man was needed to handle the case for the railroad’s subsidiary. A young lawyer from Sangamon, County, Illinois, was recommended, “one of the best men to state a case forcibly and convincingly, with a personality to appeal to any judge or jury hereabouts,” as his sponsor described him – Abraham Lincoln. (But) the jury failed to agree and was discharged.

“James Ward, a steamboat owner of St. Louis, filed a bill, May 7, 1858, in the United States District Court, Southern Division of Iowa, praying that the “bridge be declared a nuisance and ordered removed.” Judge John M. Love so ordered, but on appeal to the Supreme Court, December 1862, the bridge was permitted to stay.

“Complaints of steamboat owners and captains that the bridge obstructed navigation led Congress, in 1866, to pass an act requiring the first Rock Island bridge to be taken down and supplanted with a new bridge to be erected at the joint expense of the United States and the railroad, and the new structure was completed in 1872.” Thus the source of the name ‘Government Bridge.’

the above is from: “Fate of the First Mississippi Bridge,” in Steamboat Days authors Fred E Dayton and John W Adams first published in 1925 by Frederick A Stokes Co of Tudor New York on pages 358 thru 359

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted May 27, 2012, by David Sebben (nebbes61 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

A straight on shot looking through the Crescent Bridge from the Iowa. side.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted April 29, 2012, by David Sebben (nebbes61 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Local legend says this bridge got its Crescent name from its crescent -shaped spans on the Illinois side.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted April 19, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I did find one reference to the Crescent Bridge name historically here: http://books.google.com/books?id=TzQxAQAAMAAJ&dq=Crescent%20... and also note this article has a diagram showing span lengths. However, most sources I was finding simply call this bridge the Davenport and Rock Island Bridge.

Arsenal Bridge is likely closer to the original name of the other bridge, the Modjeski bridge. However the official report to the War Department called the bridge simply the Rock Island Bridge. This report is also of interest with a ton of info about the bridge: http://books.google.com/books?id=YgFHAQAAIAAJ&dq=Rock%20Isla...

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted April 19, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I think there has been some confusion between this bridge and "Government Bridge" which is the real Modjeski bridge in this area: http://www.bridgehunter.com/ia/scott/government/

I am not surprised people have been confusing the two, the construction dates are similar, the locations are similar, and neither of the bridge names used today are the historical names.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted January 20, 2012, by Kim Harvey

this bridge is featured on one of Will Ferrell's commercials he did for this beer company back in the fall


Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted August 29, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This link has a photo of the builders of this bridge. http://books.google.com/books?id=eAhLAAAAYAAJ&dq=editions%3A...

Also note to the right of the photo a contest for the "most beautiful Rock Island woman employee" that promises to reveal some real "peaches" Not sure that would appear in a modern company magazine.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted January 26, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

A train derailed on this bridge and apparently damaged the deck. Doesn't sound like there was any serious structural damage. http://www.kwqc.com/Global/story.asp?S=13914431

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted March 9, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Hard to tell if there is black paint on there. Looks like it might be.

By the way, one of the interesting things I learned at the ongoing 3 day historic bridge workshop in Michigan http://www.historicbridgerestoration.com/restorationmedia/vi... is that B&O Railroad was largely responsible for the development of the black paint that is so familiar to us on railroad bridges. It apparently is more than just a color, it is/was a particular paint formula that became widely used by the railroads.

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted March 7, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A beauty of a bridge! Am I seeing things or is that Black paint on it?

Crescent Rail Bridge
Posted March 7, 2010, by Madison

This is actually Ralph Modjeski's first bridge of which he was the Chief Engineer.