2 votes

Grasshopper Creek Bridge


Photo taken by Robert Elder in October 2008


BH Photo #127042


Pratt pony truss bridge over Grasshopper Creek, 2.0 mi. north and 0.6 mi. west of Muscotah
Atchison County, Kansas
Intact but closed to all traffic
Built ca. 1890.
Four panel, pin-connected Pratt pony truss
Length of largest span: 75.1 ft.
Total length: 128.9 ft.
Deck width: 14.1 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.58021, -95.53625   (decimal degrees)
39°34'49" N, 95°32'11" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/282172/4384238 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2007)
Inventory numbers
KS 000031011503580 (Kansas local bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 17366 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of April 2014)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 23 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • August 21, 2017: New photo from Nick Schmiedeler
  • August 6, 2017: Updated by Robert Elder: Estimated build date of 1890.
  • August 1, 2017: Updated by Robert Elder: Added category "Cruciform Outriggers"
  • April 27, 2017: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
  • July 27, 2016: Updated by Nathan Holth: Fixed status to closed.
  • February 5, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Adjusted GPS Coordinates.
  • November 3, 2008: New photos from Robert Elder
  • October 31, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Overview, Design, Design Description and Categories.



Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 22, 2017, by Nick Schmiedeler

heck yeah, would've been a beauty for that, just bad timing during the day....

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 21, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nick, it is funny that you ventured out here because this is one of the bridges that I thought would make a great backdrop for a solar eclipse photo.

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have really been a bit intrigued by this bridge ever since I first discovered it.

It has been my experience that bridges that are old enough to have cruciform outriggers, are usually old enough to have built-up verticals as opposed to the simple rolled verticals on this bridge. Cruciform outriggers generally fell out of favor in the 1880s, but rolled member were still relatively rare at that time. The rolled members make me think that the bridge was built after 1890, but the cruciform outriggers would make me think that it was built before 1890.

In addition, as Nathan has pointed out, this bridge has cast iron bearing shoes which are also indicative of a very old bridge.

This bridge has so many unusual and non-standard features that it is clearly of high historic significance even if it was built closer to 1900 then to 1870. As far as I'm concerned it should receive a very high priority for preservation. It is a very unusual, if not unique structure.

Nick found a bridge in neighboring Jefferson County that also has cruciform outriggers:


The Jefferson County example looks more much like an 1870s bridge to me based on the fact that it is extremely lightweight.

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

...And yes Robert, the substructure is suggestive of a relocation job. Was likely on a main road somewhere in the county and was recycled for a lesser crossing.

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I agree with Juls... I think that 1900 would be incorrect, and even 1890 might be pushing it a bit!

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Julie, good thoughts. I am confident enough that this bridge is pre 1900 that I went ahead and changed the date as you suggested. I haven't checked county records but it's possible this bridge might have been moved here or rehabilitated in 1907 although I don't know that for certain.

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 6, 2017, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Piping in, I would put a date of 1890 so that folks don't think it is turn of the century. Utilizing materials. We've seen other Missouri, Kansas companies be frugal. Agree with Nathan pre 1900.

We pushed our bowstring, McIntyre to having been put together with materials to 1878 when King started to use angle instead of cruciform even though it was sold and erected in 1883.

There's a timeline building....)

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted August 1, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hats off to whomever created the Cruciform Outriggers category. Good call!

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted June 17, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Thanks for the information. Good eye on the cast iron base. My initial suspicions were recycled materials and/or erroneous date. We may have both here.

Hopefully, the counties are aware of the significance of these bridges. The pony trusses throughout the region have been getting replaced very quickly in the last few years.

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted June 16, 2016, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


I did indeed visit this bridge and the unusual details are why it was a priority for me. I also visited this similar bridge that is claimed by MoDOT to be built by Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works:


The key shared features are cruciform/star iron outriggers and use of rolled beams for verticals. This one in Kansas on Grasshopper Creek has a unique detail NOT found in the Vernon County bridge which is a cast iron base for the end post. I attached two photos.

There are two additional similar bridges (verticals and outriggers) in Missouri that I didn't visit (and it is not clear if any of these have the cast iron base):



The one in Cass County is claimed on Bridgehunter to be built by Western Bridge Co. of Harrisonville, Missouri in 1918.

Use of cruciform in both 1907 and even moreso in 1918 is a bit suspicious so I question those dates. Moreover, since none other of Western Bridge Company's pony trusses follow the form of this bridge, maybe this company simply reused old/salvaged Missouri Valley trusses?

I propose all the above listed bridges are pre-1900 and built by one company (perhaps Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron).

Grasshopper Creek Bridge
Posted June 16, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Based on your preview pics, it looks like you visited this one. I have not been back since my initial visit at sunset after work.

I was always intrigued by the cruciform members that serve as outriggers. I did not expect to see them on a bridge from 1907.

I am glad to know this one is still in place despite being closed.