Another postcard of the old bridge from the KC Library:
Yeah I agree, when I pulled up to the bridge I was shocked at how much of it was 'new' instead of 'restored original'.
Agreed, this bridge, for all intents and purposes, has been replaced. I've changed the status to "lost."
This is similar to what happened in St. Louis' Forest Park with the Lafayette Bridge, another metal arch:
Forest Park replaced the original wrought-iron arches with modern welded versions in 1988. Even the Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory called the work a "misguided attempt at historic preservation." The only silver lining is that the welded arches are functional and load bearing, unlike the Gladstone Bridge, where they only serve as a facade.
Before their "rehabilitation," the Lafayette and Gladstone Bridges were the last of their kind in Missouri. The remaining vestiges of these bridges are a stark reminder that you can't fake historic preservation.
From what I can see in the photos, this bridge has been demolished, with the abutments and the outermost arch beams being left in place. A generous assessment would be to say that 2/5 of the bridge superstructure has been left in place.
The Wrought Iron Bridge Company built metal truss bridges nearly exclusively and as such the original historic bridge is nationally significant as a bridge that helps us interpret the functions and abilities of the most nationally prolific pre-1900 bridge builder in the county.
It is sad to see that the majority of this bridge has been destroyed and lost forever. I would have rather seen this bridge moved in its entirety to a new location, or at least seen the beams they removed placed in a park somewhere. They could have made a second bridge using the three arch beams they destroyed.