5 votes

MSTL - Keithsburg Lift Bridge


Looking upstream from Keithsburg, IL

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in Aug. 07


BH Photo #127396


The bridge was constructed for the Iowa Central in 1909. The IC was bought by the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad (M&StL) in 1910, which was subsequently purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern (CNW) in 1960. Rail traffic across the bridge was discontinued in 1971 when the line was abandoned by the CNW. The vertical lift section was locked in the up /open position until the lift portion was accidentally destroyed by fireworks and the ensuing fire on June 29, 1981. The 220 ft lift section fell into the river blocking river traffic on the main channel of the Mississippi River for more than a week until it was removed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.


Vertical lift bridge that carried the M&StL across the Mississippi River at Keithsburg
Keithsburg, Mercer County, Illinois, and Louisa County, Iowa
Built 1909; Abandoned 1971; Partially lost to fire in 1981
- McClintic-Marshall Co. of Chicago, Illinois & Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Fabrication)
- Union Bridge & Construction Co. of Kansas City, Missouri (Erection)
- Waddell & Harrington of Kansas City, Missouri (Vertical Lift Design)
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Iowa Central Railway (IAC)
- Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway (MSTL)
Pratt through truss
Total length: 2,302.0 ft. (0.4 mi.)
Also called
MSTL - Mississippi River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.10524, -90.95219   (decimal degrees)
41°06'19" N, 90°57'08" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/671955/4552460 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
528 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 38051 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 16, 2019: Updated by Luke: Added builders
  • January 16, 2019: New photo from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • May 31, 2018: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • May 22, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • May 31, 2015: New photo from Luke
  • April 25, 2015: New photo from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • May 12, 2014: New photo from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • May 8, 2014: New photo from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • August 15, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • July 10, 2013: New photo from John Marvig
  • March 18, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • August 9, 2012: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added category "Railroad"
  • July 27, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Paraphrased history and moved it ito the description box, added exact historical dates
  • March 22, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Chicago & North Western Railway"
  • April 25, 2009: Updated by Curtis Lee
  • March 14, 2009: Updated by Curtis Lee: Added coordinates and elevation.
  • November 10, 2008: Added by Nathan Morton

Related Bridges 



M&StL - Keithsburg Lift Bridge
Posted April 10, 2020, by Anonymous

There's no rails left on the entire line, Helen Keller.

M&StL - Keithsburg Lift Bridge
Posted April 10, 2020, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Some rotten thief steal steel track! How awful!

M&StL - Keithsburg Lift Bridge
Posted April 8, 2020, by Max Finnegan (littlefinny2834 [at] aol [dot] com)

First photo is the bridge looking east from the west approach. Second photo is a closer look. Third photo is looking west from the end of the bridge where the lift portion of the bridge would’ve attached.

M&StL - Mississippi River Bridge
Posted April 26, 2015, by Luke

Those belonged to the original bridge built by the Iowa Central: http://bridgehunter.com/il/mercer/bh38052/

M&StL - Mississippi River Bridge
Posted April 26, 2015, by Barry (bllauver [at] toad [dot] net)

There is an obvious group of stone piers next to the abandoned bridge. Where do they fit in?

M&StL Mississippi River Bridge
Posted July 10, 2013, by Zachary S

Damn, sooooomeone found a treasure trove of classic old structural drawings. Nice.

Keithsburg Rail Bridge
Posted November 5, 2009, by Miles W. Rich (milesrich [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This bridge never belonged to the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railroad. While the CRI&P controlled M&StL during the early 20th century, this bridge was built as stated below by the Iowa Central. In 1960, the Chicago and Northwestern purchased the M&StL, which had absorbed the Iowa Central many years before. This bridge was part of the M&StL's Peoria Gateway mainline that routed freight traffic from the north and west away from the Chicago area. The Northwestern abandoned the line and the bridge in 1970. There were plans to use it again until the vandals set fire to the lift draw span. The Rock Island's bridge across the Mississippi River is owned by the Federal Government, and is a dual purpose bridge that crosses the river at Davenport, Iowa onto the Arsenal Island at Rock Island, IL. It is now used by the Iowa Interstate Railroad as well as vehicle traffic.