12 votes

Columbia Bridge


This is a pin connected, Pratt through truss consisting of at least nine panels. This photo was taken looking south from the new bridge.

Photo taken by Robert Elder in May 2004


BH Photo #111590



Written by Robert Elder

This bridge remains the only remaining Columbia Bridge Works bridge west of the Wabash River that is listed on Bridgehunter. It is possible that there are less than 15 extant CBW structures nationwide. No other CBW structure listed on this site features both a through and pony span. This bridge is of particular significance and should receive high priority for restoration and maintenance.

Now that additional photographs have been added to this page, I have a few random thoughts about the Columbia Bridge.

First, I am glad to see that the portal bracing is intact. This is a feature that often gets damaged. This style of portal bracing is also found on CBW structures built between 1877 and 1882 in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana.

The bridge has a unique combination of one pony truss (probably a Pratt), one Pratt through truss, and a steel stringer. I can't help but wonder if the bridge was once a triple span, and the stringer section replaced a pony truss. The main span rests on Lally columns. If these are original, they probably represent an early use of this technology.

I am assuming that the bridge once featured the open letter plaques associated with the Columbia Bridge Works. I am hoping that they are in storage, or in a museum somewhere and not lost.

For now, we should be thankful that this bridge has never met a cutting torch. However, the trees growing up around this bridge are of great concern. I consider this bridge to be in danger if not maintained.


Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Marais des Cygnes River on what appears to be a former alignment of Labette Road.
Franklin County, Kansas
Built in 1880 by the Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio. Bypassed in 1980, but never removed. Collapsed 2010.
- Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio
Pratt through truss
pony truss
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.57929, -95.15064   (decimal degrees)
38°34'45" N, 95°09'02" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/312664/4272284 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36236 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


19th Century (7,205)
Beam (14,968)
Built 1880 (172)
Built during 1880s (1,914)
Cast iron (68)
Collapsed (359)
Columbia Bridge Works (67)
Franklin County, Kansas (41)
Kansas (3,166)
Lally columns (303)
Lost (23,428)
Marais des Cygnes River (33)
Pin-connected (3,816)
Pony truss (15,903)
Pratt through truss (5,208)
Pratt truss (9,025)
Steel stringer (5,857)
Through truss (14,558)
Truss (31,962)
Wrought Iron (388)

Update Log 

  • November 13, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited History to reflect that this bridge has collapsed.
  • April 8, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Added "Cast iron" to categories as this bridge appears to have at least some cast iron elements (portal decorations).
  • April 7, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Added "Lally columns" to Categories
  • April 6, 2010: Essay added by Robert Elder
  • April 5, 2010: New photos from Joshua Collins
  • January 26, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Adjusted GPS Coordinates - moved the balloon to the correct abandoned road.
  • January 22, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited History - bridge was bypassed in 1980.
  • December 1, 2009: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Overview to reflect that the bridge is in Imes Kansas, near the town of Peoria.
  • July 8, 2009: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Categories. Bridge is almost certainly constructed of wrought iron, considering the construction date of 1880.
  • December 10, 2008: New photos from Robert Elder
  • November 20, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Builder. Bridge was built by the Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio.
  • July 30, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Updated Categories.
  • February 8, 2008: Added by Robert Elder


  • Robert Elder - robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Joshua Collins - Bigjc1979 [at] aol [dot] com


Columbia Bridge
Posted September 6, 2017, by Don Morrison

I know the feeling Robert.

I spent lots of time fishing, canoeing, tubing, and just plain hanging out on and under the Wagon Wheel Bridge near Boone iowa in the 1980s. The county thought it was a liability, some of us hoped it would be saved for trail use, someone started a fire that took the wooden east approach. Then the spring ice took the rest. sad.

I also had hoped the Sunny Brae G&CC would buy Gilliece bridge, another favorite. They opted for a MOB, and a grain truck that had no business on those narrow, twisty gravels took the bowstring. I visited the west abutment a couple of weeks ago, and noticed a sign shortly after leaving the highway. The sign said "school bus turn around". So there was a wide spot for large vehicles to turn back, but the grain truck continued on.

Columbia Bridge
Posted September 5, 2017, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


The loss of this one hurts me as well.

To me the loss of Howard St. is at least as bad as this one, especially reading of the failed preservation attempts.

If you ever travel to western Ohio, seeing/crossing the one in Carillon Park in Dayton (Tom's Run) is a treat, it really is ethereal. If you can get to the Fulton Farm bridge, also in that area, it will remind you of this bridge in condition, age and setting.

With the restoration of St. Clair St., I think all of the known remaining CBW through trusses are safe for now.


Art S.

Columbia Bridge
Posted September 5, 2017, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Has it really been 7 years since this bridge fell into the river? I am still kicking myself over this one. What if I had been more pre-emptive and tried to save it?

The collapse of this bridge is the main event that inspired me to try to prevent this from repeating itself all across the country. If you have had one of your favorite bridges collapse without warning, then you will understand the sinking feeling that accompanies a bridge collapse.

Columbia Bridge
Posted October 30, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Google Maps has some great Winter imagery of the bridge site. The west side Lally Columns are still standing as is the stronger approach that rests on these columns. The East side Lally Columns are gone, along with the pony span. I would guess that one or both of the East Lally Columns failed.

Columbia Bridge
Posted December 21, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Reply to Anthony:

This bridge did indeed collapse before being sold for scrap. That makes two bridge collapses over this river (the other in Missouri where it is known as the Osage River) in the last year.

Columbia Bridge
Posted December 3, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

So.....did it actually collapse.....or was it just scrapped out while still standing?....would be curious to know for sure.

Columbia Bridge
Posted December 3, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have gotten the official word that this bridge was sold for scrap. It was not considered eligible for the NRHP and it is gone. There will be no re-assembling of this bridge.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 26, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I drove past this bridge yesterday. There is no sign of any scrap metal piled near the road. Upon visitation, it seems that this bridge has disappeared without a trace.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 18, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have looked through the agendas and minutes of the Franklin County Commission meetings for 2010. So far, I have found nothing on the collapse or removal of this bridge. There is always a possiblility that the bridge may have been owned privately (ie, completely vacated by the county), so the commission may have had little or no involvement.

The Marais des Cygnes River is not considered a navigable stream but the water itself is in the public domain. Thus, if the bridge was physically in the water, I am not certain which jurisdiction would be responsible for removal.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 15, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have e-mailed my contacts in Kansas concerning this bridge. I have also done several Google searches to find any newspaper reports or other information concerning the collapse of this bridge. I would think that a 130 year old bridge falling down would make at least a few papers.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 15, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Reply to Nathan and Anthony, et al:

I would have been glad to have seen this bridge restored anywhere. Given that the Marais des Cygnes has a terrible history for flooding, moving the bridge would not have been a bad idea.

In 2007 this bridge was besieged by the same flood that submerged both the Creamery Bridge and the Asylum Bridge in Osawatomie. I do not recall any major floods on the MDC River this summer, and I am almost certain that this bridge was still standing as of July 4th.

Now, a few unanswered questions.

1. What was done with the remains of the bridge? Is there any chance that the parts of the bridge could still be in a county scrapyard? If so, it might actually be possible to do some reassembly.

2. Is the pony truss at the East end still standing?

3. Would any parties be interested in reassembling this bridge, if (and that is a big if), any salvageable parts remain? I do know that rail-trails are being constructed in the region.

I will be e-mailing a couple contacts in Kansas today to see if there might still be some hope.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 14, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

EPIC FAIL. If whoever owned this bridge was aware of the work we do in Michigan, they would have dragged the parts from the river and shipped to Michigan for total restoration.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Sad news indeed.....am curious as to what happened. The caissons (or lally columns) appear to be good and straight in Joshua's photos. Am guessing it might have been the result of a flood.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 13, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Despite the loss of this significant bridge, the update is appreciated. I have been trying to find newspaper articles that discuss its demise. I guess that the loss of an 1880 Columbia Bridge Works span just does not make for a major news story...

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 13, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Terrible news. I hope that at least a few parts could be salvaged. This bridge is a major loss.

Columbia Bridge
Posted November 13, 2010, by Mike (4toads [at] gmail [dot] com)


I live about a half a mile from this bridge and I thought I would let everyone know that this bridge is no longer standing, it fell into the river a few months ago and was removed shortly after.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 9, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I had looked at those floor beams. I don't think I have ever seen others like them. Not in person, nor on this website.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Here is a pic of the floor beam system that Nathan was speaking of........very unique indeed.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks Nathan, that was very informative. This bridge is so difficult to study or document properly as you can not walk on it (at least I am not going to attempt it), and you can not get too close to the main or pony spans.

If the bridge has cast iron, wrought iron, and steel components (mainly on the stringer approach, most likely) that would make it a particularly interesting study.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The example Anthony shows below is in Dayton, Ohio. I have documented the bridge, albeit very briefly so I may have missed some details. However, that particular bridge does have additional cast iron elements on it, particularly the brackets for the tension rods which are all part of the floorbeam assembly. There also appear to be cast iron guides between the deck and the bottom chord connections. The saddles for the hangers that are either attached to (or actually are) the pins for the bottom chord connections are also cast iron. One thing I forgot to inspect: I should have looked more closely at the spacers for the verticals... might those be cast iron as well, or are those simple short cuts from a rolled beam?

From these photos, I have no idea if any of this is on the Kansas bridge, except that the floorbeam detail is not present. But these are some things you would want to look for.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 8, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Thanks for the information concerning the history of the Columbia Bridge Works. Although I have looked at the category on Bridgehunter, this is the only CBW span that I have personally visited - albeit from a distance. I noticed that on the 1887 span in Ohio, the company was using built-up members instead of rolled memebers. This would have been a change from the earlier CBW standards.

Several years ago, the Old Depot Museum in Ottawa (county seat) had some pamphlets which mentioned this bridge. Because the museum is the centerpiece of the Franklin County Historical Society, it would be nice if the open letter plaques, might be in storage there, though this is pure hope. Hopefully any finials that may have been on the bridge are in storage as well.

Either the museum or the courthouse might have some records concerning this brige. Erecting a bridge across the Marais des Cygnes River must have been a great accomplishment for Peoria/Imes, so hopefully somebody generated some sort of record.

Do you think that this bridge might have other cast-iron elements other than the portal bracing? Cast iron is so rare on bridges, that this would undoubtedly add to the significance of this bridge.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 7, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)


Was just looking at Joshua Collins' new pics of this amazing span. It features the older Columbia Bridge Works designed portals with mostly cast elements. Sometime shortly after D.H. Morrisons' death in 1885 the portal design was simplified along with major design changes overall. The open letter builders plaque remained the same even after the company changed to the Columbia Bridge Company. Unfortunately, prosperity dissipated and the firm vanished sometime around 1890.

The open letter plaques don't appear to be extant on this span, but the portal decoration is intact.

The top picture below is from an 1881 bridge and the bottom one from an 1887 span.

Columbia Bridge
Posted April 7, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

KSHS does have a page for this bridge, although there is no photograph. The bridge was not considered to be NRHP eligible at the time of the survey, which was likely conducted in the 1980s.


Columbia Bridge
Posted April 6, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Glad to see some photographs of the portals. This is a fine bridge, even in its current derelict condition.

Columbia Bridge
Posted December 1, 2009, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Sounds good, Jacob. If anybody knows the land owner and could obtain good portal pictures, that would be great. I hope that the open-letter plaques and portal decorations commonly used by the Columbia Bridge Works are still intact. I would like to take more photos of this bridge, but I live out of state now.

Columbia Bridge
Posted December 1, 2009, by Jacob (jacob [at] bigdaddysmoney [dot] com)

I'm going to have to ride over there to look at it again because I live only 3 miles from that bridge and the bridge is really in Imes not Peoria

Columbia Bridge
Posted July 9, 2009, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks for the information, Anthony.

I have not been able to closely inspect this bridge to check for finials, plaques and other features associated with the Columbia Bridge Works. I would need to find out who owns the land and get permission.

As of this date, this bridge is the only CBW bridge west of the Mississippi that is listed on Bridgehunter. This one definitely needs to be preserved.

Columbia Bridge
Posted July 8, 2009, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Robert......It's a safe bet that if it's a Columbia Bridge Works span, that it is wrought iron.

Columbia Bridge
Posted July 8, 2009, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I have added "wrought iron" to categories for this bridge considering the construction date of 1880. This seems appropriate unless proven otherwise.

Columbia Bridge
Posted February 8, 2008, by Robert L. Elder (Robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This abandoned bridge is located immediately southeast of Peoria, Kansas. Although it is not accessible, it can be viewed and photographed from the new bridge.