Rating:
18 votes

RI - Gasconade River Bridge

Photos 

Main span

Photo taken by Jim Ridge

BH Photo #106610

Map 

Video 

Drone footage

Play video

Description 

The Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad completed construction on this massive bridge in 1903. Officially the largest railroad bridge in the state of Missouri, it exceeds 1800 feet in length and sails 110 feet above the Gasconade River and valley. Rail traffic was heaviest during World War II, when an armed guard kept watch from a small shack at the bridge's western end. After this period, the frequency of trains slowly diminished until the railroad's poor financial state caused the end of regular service in August of 1979. The final train is said to have crossed in December of that year. The bridge's official number was 1146.

Facts 

Overview
Pratt deck truss over Gasconade River on the Rock Island Railroad between Freeburg and Belle
Location
Osage County, Missouri
Status
Abandoned; Burned November 2017
Future prospects
Ameren has donated the railroad to the State of Missouri for use as a "Rail to Trail" project. Work is underway to clear brush and remove the rails.
History
Built 1902 by A.J. Tullock; out of service since 1980.
Builder
- A.J. Tullock of Leavenworth, Kansas
Railroads
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (RI; CRIP; ROCK)
- Southern Pacific Railroad (SP)
- St. Louis Southwestern Railway (SSW)
- St. Louis, Kansas City & Colorado Railway (StLKC&C)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
Design
2 - 62.5' Deck Plate Girder
1 - 249' Pratt Deck Truss
2 - 130.7' Pratt Deck Truss
12 - 30' Deck Plate Girder
13 - 60' Deck Plate Girder
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 249.0 ft.
Total length: 1,774.4 ft.
Also called
"Gascondy Bridge"
Rock Island Bridge #1146
Rock Island Gasconade River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.29994, -91.86553   (decimal degrees)
38°17'60" N, 91°51'56" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/599198/4239703 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Summerfield
Inventory number
BH 22242 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 15, 2017: Updated by Luke: Arsoned
  • July 7, 2017: New video from Clark Vance
  • February 13, 2017: New photos from Steve Jett
  • September 11, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • September 11, 2016: New photo from Dave King
  • December 17, 2015: Updated by Chris Perry: Updated Status
  • December 1, 2014: Updated by Clark Vance: Added category "American Bridge Co."
  • April 11, 2014: Updated by Clark Vance: Added category "American Bridge Co."
  • December 28, 2013: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added categories "Southern Pacific Railroad", "St. Louis Southwestern Railway", "Union Pacific Railroad"
  • November 2, 2013: Updated by Joe Leets: Added new photo
  • April 12, 2013: New photo from mark Botkin
  • November 21, 2012: Updated by Brian Parkinson: Discription added. History added.
  • December 24, 2010: Updated by Brian Parkinson: Description updated, Date corrected
  • April 23, 2008: Updated by Max Johnson: Fixed name from "Gascondy" to "Gasconade"
  • July 3, 2006: Posted additional photo from Nathan Morton

Related Bridges 

Sources 

  • Jim Ridge
  • Nathan Morton - morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Brian Parkinson - railstoruin [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Dylan VanAntwerp - dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com
  • Chris Perry
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Clark Vance - cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com
  • Luke

Comments 

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 16, 2017, by Rob Tayloe (shadowcaver [at] gmail [dot] com)

Not good to hear about a fire on the bridge. Hope the structural integrity of the steel has not been compromised.

Following from the Osage County Sheriff Department:

Gascondy Bridge Fire Update

The Osage County Sheriff's Office has asked for the assistance of the Missouri State Fire Marshal's Office with the investigation of the fire yesterday evening with the old railroad bridge spanning the Gasconade River known as the Gascondy Bridge.

Based on the initial investigation, it does not appear to be suspicious in nature. Workers were working on the bridge yesterday with metal cutting torches.

We are going to conduct a complete investigation in order to rule out any criminal activity.

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by Luke

John, photo 16 was published in Volume 35 of the trade journal Railway Age prior to modern copyright laws, and as such is in the Public Domain.

While not a *current* picture, it is legal to reuse.

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by John Brown (john [dot] brown [at] tvstl [dot] com)

Does anybody have an image of the bridge we can use on Fox 2 News in St. Louis today? Thanks

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by marcosg (marcosg_777 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Glad to hear it's not too serious. I just happened to be looking at this bridge on Maps and coincidently it burned..

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I'm hoping that the trail does work out. Would be a great way to preserve a lot of these nice bridges. Also, probably the only thing at this point that could put a town like Belle back on the map.

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

The fire is unfortunate but not devastating. It's almost certain the surface would have been replaced anyway as a part of the trail conversion. It's unlikely the heat was enough to reduce the strength enough to matter for bikes and walkers.

With luck access to the deck will be reduced and there will be fewer 1D10T errors.

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 15, 2017, by Luke
RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted December 30, 2014, by The Independent Rage (theindependentrage [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge (in particular, its wooden deck) has apparently been sitting around and decaying since 1980. Anyone who would endeavor to cross this bridge in 2014 is, methinks, certifiably deranged. It's not as if you would just be taking a little 10-foot header into the ol' crick if you fell.

But you still wouldn't be as crazy as the guy who was partying it up on the bridge and fell to his death (gee, never could've seen that coming), as per one of the other comments. I fully expect next to see a comment reporting that the Sons of Anarchy recently crossed the bridge on their choppers (including one with a sidecar) in order to get away from the law, and then decided to party with their old ladies right out there high atop the river. Good grief.

RI - Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 29, 2014, by Kevin

Does anyone know the Web height of the plate girders on the viaduct and the two 62 ft girders on the west end?

RI Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

There's a convoluted history:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_Midland_Railway

All the parts I've seen from this bridge west are heavily overgrown and in a few places paved over but the track is mostly there, inactive not abandoned.

RI Gasconade River Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by Joe Leets (jpkava10 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

For some odd reason, MapQuest has this whole route up to Pleasant Hill marked as Southern Pacific and says it is still active, and then from Pleasant Hill to Raytown as St. Louis Southwestern and then from Raytown to Kansas City as Union Paciic, and it says that this whole route is still active.

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted October 30, 2010, by rrguy (rrguy2005 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I might walk across this bridge but you sure wouldn't get me to take a hy-rail vehicle across it.

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted February 25, 2010, by Paul Backues (pbackues [at] yahoo [dot] com)

In response to Mr. Browns question why a gate was placed across the road, I can answer that. At the request of the property owners, the county abandoned the road and a gate was placed at the beginning of the private property. The reason for this was due to people tearing down fences letting cattle out, driving through the fences into the fields, poaching deer from the road, shooting cattle, breaking into the houses, stealing property, and attempting to steal vehicles. Some of these individuals were arrested however, it did not seem to deter others. Parties would be held on the railroad bridge and they would build fires on the bridge. One evening, a young man fell off of the bridge and died. It is a shame that the road had to be blocked off however, unfortunately the actions of some people, ruin it for others. I hope this explains why this happened.

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted January 24, 2010, by John O (bigtex144 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I just went and visited the bridge today. Still very much intact! I rode my bike down RR 636 (just south of the railroad line) and had to climb up the side of the hill to get up to the trestle. I've been wanting to see it for awhile and I agree, winter is probably the best time to visit while there's no vegitation, insects, snakes, etc.

I noticed on both sides of the bridge just before I reached the top were the remnants of chicken-wire fences that were a tangled mess and seemed to have been dismantled/destroyed for quite some time. Not sure if these were the fences you guys were speaking of, but they certainly present no obstruction now.

Didn't venture too far out today, being that recent rains caused the ties to be very wet (and VERY slick), and the Gasconade below had become overflowing roaring rapids. That noise alone is enough to choke out any courage I had mustered up! I hope sometime again soon when it's a little drier I get the chance to walk a good portion of the line and perhaps the old bridge. Thanks for all the great pics.

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted November 12, 2009, by Ken Arnold (Ken [at] Arnoldforyou [dot] com)

I just in the last week learned more about my Grandfather's historic, 1907 motorcycle trip from Indianapolis, Indiana to Denver, Colorado via a letter to the editor, on page 84 of a 1908 Motorcycle Illustrated magazine found within Google Books. (For photos of this trip, go to http://www.Granddadsbikerpics.com )

Anyway, within this writeup by my Grandfather (having newly arrived in Colorado) was his reference on how he and his three other riders (his brother and two cousins) traveled part of the trip on railroad ties. And he specifically mentioned crossing the Gasconde River Railroad Bridge!

When seeing how high, and how narrow, this bridge is and that they were riding on 1907 Wagner motorcycles, I just say my Granddad HAD a bravery few men in even his age had! Wow! Just looking at the last photo, looking down thru a broker railroad tie, makes me think about what they must have felt going over that railroad bridge on motorcycles!

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted August 4, 2009, by snoop (snoopdorkydork71 [at] gmail [dot] com)

found this picture in a copy of the Old Settler's Gazette. They list it as being taken in 1906.

http://www.oldstagecoachstop.org/webgeezer/Gazette04/Gascond...

Gasconade River Railroad Bridge
Posted June 6, 2008, by Max Johnson

This entire Rock Island line is now owned by a power company whose name I do believe is Ameren (?), and sometime in the near future intends to rehab this line for company use, or until the Rails to Trails steps in and buys it.

The fence was probably put there by Ameren to keep people off the rails and bridge, for fear someone would fall or get hurt on it, and that would cause them to get a law-suit.

Hope this can clear up the fence thing

Gascondy Bridge
Posted April 17, 2008, by John Brown (john [dot] brown [at] foxtv [dot] com)

I have walked this bridge numerous times. As a matter of fact, it's one of my best childhood memories of Belle! A friend of mine (no names mentioned) even jumped off the bridge into the river.

The last time I went to see the bridge, there was a gate closing off the road. Anybody know why the area is now off limits? I always figured it would be, but wondering if anybody has the scoop.

Gascondy Bridge
Posted August 3, 2007, by Roger A. Klebba (rklebba [at] embarqmail [dot] com)

My grandfather, Theodore Klebba, owned a 1,000 acre farm on the Belle side of the bridge bordering the Gasconade River. I've walked across the bridge about 7 or 8 times to visit my uncle Adolph Klebba who passed away about 6 years ago. I started my walk from the Freeburg railroad tunnel (about 4 miles from Gascondy). My mother & father were caught on the bridge by a train when they were dating...they had to stand on the railroad tie platform which protrudes out over the valley. Needless to say, it shook them up pretty good.

Gascondy Bridge
Posted June 11, 2006, by Nathan Morton (mortons03 [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

If one wants to walk this bridge, I recommend doing it in the fall or winter months, because to get there one must forge through a plethera of poision ivy and ticks (I picked at least 20 off me). The view is breathtaking but the trek across isn't for the faint at heart, since some of the ties are rotting or altogether missing in places. Still I found the adventure to be worth the drive.