2 votes

La Plata Viaduct



Photo taken by Daniel Barnes in April 2018


BH Photo #425171

Street View 


La Plata Home Press, 1935

PDF (138 KB)

Posted by Rusty Weisman

1935 newspaper article from the local paper the La Plata Home Press describing the new bridge


La Plata Home Press, 1935

PDF (295 KB)

Posted by Rusty Weisman

Bridge construction delayed by redesign to include sidewalk - and by need for donation of ROW



Construction began on Monday Dec. 16, 1935. The bridge was built by local men at a cost of $60,000 - $23,000 of which came from the WPA. Some $4-5,000 was expected to be spent on local labor. (La Plata Home Press (22 Aug, 1935). Construction delays earlier that year were due to a redesign based on public demand that the bridge include a sidewalk for pedestrians and by the need to obtain the necessary new ROW by donation, since the WPA would not pay for ROW. A public dedication of the bridge was held on September 24, 1936 at 7:30 pm. The LaPlata Home Press (1 Oct 1936) reported that the dedication was attended by about 500 people. The bridge dedication included a tap dancing competition by local children as well as a old time fiddle contest. O. S. Wheatcroft was the master of ceremonies. Mayor of Kirksville G. A. Jacobs and Division Engineer H. M. Brush participated in the dedication along with La Plata mayor Mack Derr who cut the ribbon to allow the first traffic to pass. Following the dedication there was a celebration in the town square that included two dance bands and a screening of Lester Dent's Caribbean Treasure Hunting film. Lester Dent was credited in the La Plata Press with much of the success for the event. Dent whose parents lived northeast of La Plata was the celebrated author of the Doc Savage pulp fiction novels that had gained enormous popularity following publication of the first novel "The Man of Bronze" in 1933. Dent is credited with inspiring numerous comic book heroes, including Superman, Batman, and the Fantastic Four. His Doc Savage character was also the inspiration for the emotional control of Mr. Spock, the distinctive look and backstory of Indiana Jones as well as the hi-tech gadgets popularized in James Bond films.

In the 1920s, Dent walked to school in La Plata, crossing the tracks here on an 18' wide wood and steel structure that was built by the county in 1916 and was replaced by this bridge. That earlier bridge had a 100' steel main span with 2 bents and steep wooden approach spans (3 bents on each side). The 1916 road bridge had no side walk and was dangerous for pedestrians. It seems that Dent may have been among those responsible for insisting that bridge K-0516 be redesigned to include a sidewalk.

This structure was replaced in 2020. An effort is underway to dedicate the replacement structure to Lester Dent.


Concrete tee beam bridge over BNSF Railway on Route D (N. Brown Street) Formally US highway 63
La Plata, Macon County, Missouri
Replaced by new span
Future prospects
Replaced in 2021
Built 1935-36
- A.C. Longfield
- Works Progress Administration
Concrete tee beam
Length of largest span: 52.2 ft.
Total length: 183.1 ft.
Deck width: 22.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.03007, -92.48831   (decimal degrees)
40°01'48" N, 92°29'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/543658/4431220 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
La Plata
Land survey
T. 60 N., R. 14 W., Sec. 5
Average daily traffic (as of 2016)
Inventory numbers
MONBI 5845 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
MoDOT K-516 (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
BH 69241 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of September 2017)
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: 2 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • August 23, 2020: Updated by Kelly McClanahan: status update
  • June 26, 2020: Updated by David Backlin: Updated to Doomed
  • May 31, 2019: Document added by Rusty Weisman
  • April 23, 2018: New photos from Daniel Barnes
  • December 10, 2016: New Street View added by James Baughn
  • September 17, 2015: Added by James Baughn


  • Daniel Barnes
  • Rusty Weisman
  • David Backlin - us71 [at] cox [dot] net
  • Kelly McClanahan


La Plata Viaduct
Posted September 27, 2022, by Tim (springfieldbridges [at] gmail [dot] com)

The new bridge was named the Lester Dent Memorial Bridge in 2021. article reference: https://www.kirksvilledailyexpress.com/stories/la-plata-name...

La Plata Viaduct
Posted March 10, 2021, by Tim (springfieldbridges [at] gmail [dot] com)

The new bridge is open!

La Plata Viaduct
Posted March 15, 2020, by Tim (springfieldbridges [at] gmail [dot] com)

Plans from MODOT March 20,2020 letting: file:///home/chronos/u-cfd1820a1334e7b8df9b0ad93c263f35e1f714f7/MyFiles/Downloads/200320_B03_J2S2168_J2S3198_Plans.pdf

La Plata Viaduct
Posted March 15, 2020, by Tim (springfieldbridges [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge is planned to be replaced, allegedly in FY 2020. The bridge is just to the east of the famous La Plata Amtrak station (former ATSF) on the BNSF Railway.