St. Francisville Bridge
Bridge looking west from Missouri bank
Photo taken by Nathan Morton in Feb. 08
BH Photo #127588
The St. Francisville Bridge carries Iowa Route 394 and the Missouri Supplemental Route B over the Des Moines River, between Lee County, Iowa and Clark County, Missouri. A three-span, rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June 1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge, and is now Iowa's only such crossing still in non-governmental hands.
Located at one of Iowa's most remote interstate crossings, the St. Francisville Bridge is one of the state's few remaining toll bridges. In this it represents a nationwide trend toward toll bridge construction in the 1920s and 1930s. Toll bridges were built at major crossings throughout the country during this time by private companies, small corporations or local citizens groups, to fill the void created by state government inaction. Multiple-span structures such as the Abraham Lincoln Bridge in Blair were built as toll structures and later opened to free traffic once their funding bonds had been retired. The St. Francisville Bridge, on the other hand, is the only such structure still in private hands and still operating as a toll bridge. The bridge is technologically distinguished as a relatively uncommon example of cantilevered truss construction. The cantilevered through truss was a signature design of St. Louis-based Sverdrup and Parcel, which engineered several major spans in the Midwest. The cantilevered Warren truss configuration is uncommon for a bridge of the scale of St. Francisville, however, more often found on the larger structures over the Missouri and Mississippi rivers. A well-preserved interstate crossings, the St. Francisville Bridge is an important highway-related resource [adapted from Crow-Dolby and Fraser 1992].
- Cantilevered through truss bridge over Des Moines River on former Route B/IA 394
- Clark County, Missouri, and Lee County, Iowa
- Bypassed by four-lane bridge on new alignment in 2004, was still open to traffic on a frontage road until closure in 2016.
- Built 1937; tolls removed 2003
- - F.W. Whitehead of Kahoka, Missouri
- Sverdrup & Parcel of St. Louis, Missouri (Designer)
- Cantilevered Warren through truss
Length of largest span: 228.0 ft.
Total length: 762.9 ft.
Deck width: 21.6 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.8 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
- Also called
- IA394 Des Moines River Bridge
MO B Des Moines River Bridge
- Approximate latitude, longitude
- +40.46216, -91.56706 (decimal degrees)
40°27'44" N, 91°34'01" W (degrees°minutes'seconds")
- Approximate UTM coordinates
- 15/621488/4480039 (zone/easting/northing)
- Quadrangle map:
- Land survey
- T. 65 N., R. 6 W., Sec. 4-5
- Inventory numbers
- MoDOT K-918 (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
MONBI 25293 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
IA 603980 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 21257 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
- Inspection (as of 02/2015)
- Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 15.6 (out of 100)
- Average daily traffic (as of 2014)
- September 14, 2016: Updated by Nathan Holth: Closed.
- June 19, 2014: Photo imported by Luke Harden
- December 28, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
- July 13, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builders
- April 9, 2012: New photos from Quinn Phelan
- January 23, 2011: New photos from Fmiser
- April 25, 2008: Updated by Max Johnson