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Wabash Bridge


Wabash Railroad Bridge (Old)

View looking east, from the Missouri side

Photographer unknown


BH Photo #308863



On May 3, 1982, the towboat Northern King lost power in one engine while pushing 12 grain-filled barges in heavy currents. The craft struck a 250-foot (76 m) truss span, which collapsed into the river, entangling the tug and several barges and halting river traffic for nine hours. Three barges broke loose and drifted downstream, missing Mark Twain Memorial Bridge. The bridge, then owned by Norfolk and Western Railway, was repaired.[1][2]

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.


Same Bridge. Lift span was the only thing replaced in 1993
Hannibal, Marion County, Missouri, and Pike County, Illinois
Swing span replaced around 1993 with current lift span.
Built 1872; Drawpsan replaced 1883; Replaced in 1993
- Detroit Bridge & Iron Works of Detroit, Michigan
- Willard S. Pope of Detroit, Michigan
- Wabash Railroad (WAB)
Pratt through truss swing with at least one Whipple fixed span
Length of largest span: 359.5 ft.
Total length: 1,576.5 ft.
Also called
Hannibal Highway Bridge
Wabash Railroad Bridge #651
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.72409, -91.36191   (decimal degrees)
39°43'27" N, 91°21'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/640391/4398417 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Hannibal East
Inventory number
BH 61822 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 2, 2017: Updated by Jeremy Ruble: Update swing span only replaced in 1993. Not sure when rest of superstructure was replaced
  • July 31, 2017: Updated by Luke: All spans from 1872/1888 have been replaced.
  • July 31, 2017: Updated by Jeremy Ruble: Same bridge. Just lift span replaced
  • July 29, 2017: Updated by Fmiser: Added info on the repositioning of the pivot span in 1913
  • August 18, 2015: Updated by Luke: Builder + marked as rail-and-road
  • July 24, 2015: New photo from Rusty Weisman
  • November 29, 2014: Updated by Jeremy Ruble: Bridge was only partially replaced
  • November 23, 2014: Updated by James Holzmeier: Added Wabash bridge number, date erected, total length & updated history
  • July 22, 2014: Added by Douglas Butler

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Wabash Bridge
Posted July 31, 2017, by Luke

From what I can see, all of the non-lift spans are riveted/too heavily built to have been built in 1872, so I'm going to say that the whole thing was replaced in 1993: