3 votes

St. Francisville Bridge


Bridge looking west from Missouri bank

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in Feb. 08


BH Photo #127588


Street Views 


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
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
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 report (as of August 2016)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 15.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • May 10, 2019: New Street View added by Luke
  • 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



St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 11, 2019, by Luke

The doubter anon was me

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 11, 2019, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

All I know is that in the latest Street View dated December 2018, the bridge is still standing. Apparently, Annonymous is either mistaking this bridge with another one unless there's photographic evidence, or the person is just pissing us off. In either case, her claim is fake news unless we have real evidence.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 11, 2019, by Mike Kerkau (mjkerkau [at] gmail [dot] com)

Unless, of course, at least one of these "Anonymous"es is just What's Her Name again...

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 10, 2019, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Last year, a user who has since been banned, was falsely claiming that a certain bridge in Florida had been destroyed by flooding. Thus, users are going to be a little bit skeptical about reports of bridges being destroyed unless there is photographic evidence or reputable news stories.

Last year's Florida Saga made for a lot of doubting Thomases on here. If you have photographic evidence of this bridge being destroyed, then please upload it. If you do not have a user account, you can post a photo in the comments.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 10, 2019, by Anonymous

I searched for information as well. All I can say is that my eyes work just fine, and the bridge is gone.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 10, 2019, by Anonymous

I find that hard to believe, considering there's been no information posted about it.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted May 10, 2019, by Anonymous

I drove by here last summer, and the bridge is gone.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted July 9, 2018, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I took the attached photos in 2016, and as you can see the approach span piers have seen better days. Enormous cracks directly under the stringer bearings. This is almost certainly why the bridge was closed.

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted July 9, 2018, by James Wireman (jameslovesbridges_86 [at] ymail [dot] com)

Why Is Did This Bridge Shut Down in 2016? What is The Matter With It?

St. Francisville Bridge
Posted April 22, 2008, by Joe (nascarfan999 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Just wanted to update the status of this bridge. The toll bridge was replaced by a new bridge just to the west of this bridge in approx. 2004 (give or take a year). The tolls were taken off of this bridge, but the bridge was open at last check. The bridge still carries Hwy B on the Missouri side, and I believe the Iowa side is now a county road, but the road dead ends into the new highway (Highway 27) just north of the bridge).