There's a convoluted history:
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.
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.
I might walk across this bridge but you sure wouldn't get me to take a hy-rail vehicle across it.
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.
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.
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!
found this picture in a copy of the Old Settler's Gazette. They list it as being taken in 1906.
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
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.
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.
Actually, the bridge (MP 114.6) saw it's last train in the first month or so of 1980 (records lost), as The Rock slowly dwindled away before being liquidated on March 31st. The line's next owner, St. Louis Southwestern, only operated the route from St. Louis as far west as Belle (MP 106), from 1980 to 1984, when service was cut back to Owensville (MP 92). In December of 1995, the last train left Owensville, with all traffic being cut back to Union (MP 60). Nathan is right in everything he said. Ticks are unusually and surprisingly numerous here - I've never picked so many off of me (I think I counted 32) And the bridge itself produces an awkward and disorienting sense of vertigo which takes a little while to get used to. Currently, the bridge and the rest of the line are owned by Ameren Power co, who bought the 'hand-me-down' line from the UP in 1999 for 10 mil. Something of interest: In response to the Ameren owned Taum Sauk Mtn. dam, which broke and destroyed Johnson's shut in's state park, the state is seeking revenge on the self-insured company. Involved in this discussion is the old CRI&P right of way, which the state has expressed interest in acquiring as payment for 'damages'. It seems to always be an uphill battle for this line. I always hope for the best. I'd love to guide a train across the bridge someday, though I've got to admit, I think it's beautiful how it rests now.
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.