Photographed this bridge this weekend. Absolutely a stunning structure, and one of the most beautiful I've ever had the pleasure of documenting..
An aerial view of the swingspan of the Crescent Bridge in its open position, allowing barge traffic to pass.
That bridge was the predecessor to the Arsenal Bridge( listed here: http://bridgehunter.com/il/rock-island/first/ ), NOT the Crescent Bridge.
“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
Local legend says this bridge got its Crescent name from its crescent -shaped spans on the Illinois side.
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...
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.
this bridge is featured on one of Will Ferrell's commercials he did for this beer company back in the fall
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.
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
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.
A beauty of a bridge! Am I seeing things or is that Black paint on it?
This is actually Ralph Modjeski's first bridge of which he was the Chief Engineer.