Built as a swing span, the bridge was converted in 1994 to a vertical lift bridge to increase the width of the navigational channel. The vertical lift span was taken from a bridge over the Tennessee River at Florence, Alabama. To minimize the effect on river traffic, the new span was installed over the course of three days.
Before the Mark Twain Memorial Bridge opened in 1936, the Wabash Bridge was also a toll bridge carrying U.S. Route 36 across the river.
From an article in "Engineering News", Vol 71, No. 9 Feb 26 1914.
Between 1912 and 1914, Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron company moved the swing span 1/2 span length (180 ft) west, adding a girder approach, and moving a Whipple fixed span from the west side of the pivot to the east side. The Whipple span was shortened from 250ft to 180 ft. This changed the overall bridge from 7 main spans to 6. The change was the result of complains from boatmen regarding navigation past the swing span. A complaint was filed in 1905 after a sightseeing barge was sunk when it ran into one of the piers. Wabash Railroad fought the order. In 1911 the Supreme Court upheld the ruling to change. The substructure was built, falsework was put under the deck of the Whipple span, and finally barges used to shuffle the spans. The few days floating the spans was the only time river or rail traffic was interrupted for more than a few hours.