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Old St. Charles Bridge

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Photos 

View Showing The South Side Of Old St. Charles Bridge, Looking North From The Mooring Of Riverboat Spirit Of St. Louis

Photo taken August 1988 by James Roach for the Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

Map 

Timeline 

Compiled by James Baughn

1890
Pontoon bridge built by John Enoch, but it was destroyed a few months later by ice on the river
May 14, 1896
St. Charles and St. Louis County Bridge Company incorporated
Dec. 23, 1899
Three-quarters of company stock transferred to the St. Louis, St. Charles, and Western Electric Railway Company
May 1, 1902
Contract executed with the Midland Bridge Company to construct the bridge, with the consulting firm of Waddell and Hedrick overseeing construction
Aug. 1, 1902
Construction started
Dec. 7, 1903
Piers completed
Nov. 15, 1903
Work on superstructure started
Apr. 23, 1904
First trolley crossed the bridge carrying dignitaries
Apr. 24, 1904
Regular trolley service inaugurated
May 22, 1904
Pedestrian and auto traffic allowed the cross
June 23, 1904
Last piece of wooden deck planking nailed into place
Sept. 26, 1916
Spark from a train passing underneath set the bridge on fire, destroying the deck from the main spans
1920
Bridge reopened after extensive repairs at a cost of $148,000
Jan. 16, 1932
Tolls removed from bridge, which had been incorporated into the state highway system as part of US 40
Jan. 17, 1932
Streetcar service discontinued across the bridge
June 26, 1935
Runaway train crashed into the supports over Main Street, closing the bridge for two months
Dec. 1937
Three contracts let for major bridge rehabilitation which took place 1938-1939
Aug. 16, 1958
Blanchette Bridge dedicated
June 11, 1959
US 40 officially rerouted to the Blanchette Bridge
1992
Bridge closed to traffic with the opening of the MO 370 Discovery Bridge
1997
Bridge demolished section by section

Facts 

Overview
Lost four-span through truss bridge over the Missouri River at St. Charles
Location
St. Charles, St. Charles County, Missouri, and St. Louis County, Missouri
Status
Replaced by the Discovery Bridge (Missouri State Highway 370) downstream, next to the Wabash Railroad Bridge
History
Completed 1904; closed to traffic in 1992; finally dismantled in 1997
Builder
- Midland Bridge Co. of Kansas City, Missouri
Railroads
- Interurban
- St. Louis, St. Charles & Western Railway (StLStC&W)
Design
From east to west (all through trusses are pin-connected):
Spans 1-5: Five 90-foot plate girder spans
Span 6: 148-foot Warren deck truss
Span 7: 14-panel, 300-foot Pennsylvania through truss
Span 8: 19-panel, 420-foot Pennsylvania through truss
Span 9: 18-panel, 420-foot Pennsylvania through truss
Span 10: 18-panel, 418-foot Pennsylvania through truss
Span 11: 97-foot plate girder
Spans 12-15: Four-span continuous deck girder, total length 94 feet
Span 16: 35-foot deck girder
Spans 17-20: Four-span continuous deck girder, total length 90 feet
Span 21: 24-foot stringer span
Span 22: 60-foot deck truss
Spans 23-24: Pair of 28-foot stringer spans
Spans 25-28: Four-span continuous deck girder, total length 103 feet
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 420.0 ft.
Total length: 2,873.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Deck width: 20.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.78325, -90.47558   (decimal degrees)
38°46'60" N, 90°28'32" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/719274/4295751 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Saint Charles
Inventory numbers
MoDOT K-239R (Missouri Dept. of Transportation bridge number)
BH 22576 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 17, 2014: Updated by Luke: Added categories "Rail-and-Road", "Railroad", "Interurban", "St. Louis, St. Charles & Western Railway"
  • February 22, 2013: New photo from David Backlin
  • September 13, 2010: New photo from Eric Kinkhorst
  • November 17, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • September 13, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • April 17, 2006: Posted additional photo from Charles Robinson

Related Bridges 

Sources 

  • HAER MO-30 - Old St. Charles Bridge
  • Charles Robinson - crobinson8 [at] charter [dot] net
  • James Baughn - webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com
  • Mark Frazier - mfrazier404 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Eric Kinkhorst - erick [dot] bud [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Wikipedia
  • David Backlin - us71 [at] cox [dot] net

Comments 

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted July 23, 2014, by Chuck (Idontwanttosay [at] zzz [dot] com)

I remember my friend and I riding our bikes out to the st. louis side of the bridge in January, 1964? to see the ice covered Missouri river. We walked out to the first pylon that is entirely in the water. The river was only partially frozen and I remember seeing cracks in the ice. I didn't even know how to swim, not that it would have mattered. Every time I looked at that bridge when there was no ice, I cant believe that we walked out that far. We were daredevils, but this was plain dumb.

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted May 14, 2011, by historicsaintcharles (null [at] null [dot] com)

From the news paper November 4, 1997

ST. CHARLES

Bridge blasting is delayed one day

Bridge demolition fans will have to wait until Wednesday to see the third truss section of the Old Highway 115 Bridge go down.

The Missouri Department of Transportation on Monday postponed Tuesday's scheduled blast because of bad weather. Now the demolition will take place at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday. The final blasting of the final truss section will take place on Nov. 10.

---------------------------

I heard they had all sorts of problems with the demolition, but I have no facts or stories directly from the engineers that dismantled it. Apparently was built to last.

I'd rather have this back & delete the hideous casino down the street. Replacing our riverboats with the ugliest architecture around was not a good idea...

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted March 31, 2011, by Claudette (cwolken [at] embarqmail [dot] com)

I drove across this bridge every workday, back in the early 1980's, to Earth City. The curve on the St. Charles side was a white-knuckled experience. There were so many scrapes along the rail where other drivers had gotten way too close.

One day on the commute home from work, traffic came to an abrupt stop. I was in the middle of the bridge at the time. As I sat there in my car I felt a bouncing movement happening. I looked over at the walkway and saw a dog prancing along. You could actually feel the bridge bounce a bit with every step the dog took.

The St. Charles riverfront was a favorite hangout. One evening while sitting there I saw a chunk of concrete fall from under the bridge into the river below.

After these two experiences, happening within a couple of weeks of one another, I started taking the I-70 bridge to and from work. But this old bridge was still a landmark. It was part of our town; part of who we were.

Your sight is surely missed old bridge! It is too bad times change.

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted January 7, 2011, by Chris (chris_godat [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I used to bike across this bridge as well.

When I was in high school we would park on the St. Charles side and walk across the little path-way--there is no way that something like this would ever be built again.

This was also a great place to bring a date.

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted August 7, 2007, by Dylan

There's absolutely nothing left of this bridge on the St. Charles side that would indicate that it ever existed. But on the other side of the river, the old approach hill to the bridge is still there (at the end of St. Charles Rock Road), along with the old roadway pavement heading up the hill. Barricades prevent driving up there, but it can certainly be walked.

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted February 11, 2007, by Steve McVicker (Donner337 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Rest in peace my old friend. I too wish i had the gas money i spent traveling you. Now just like my high School sweethearts of the early eighties, gone are you, but with pleasant memories. You were narrow scary and worn in 82 when i used you the most, your rebar was showing through the concrete then. I used you until 1991 when i left St.louis, no longer do you stand in honor of the brave men of steel that shaped your being.

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted September 14, 2006, by Karen (nascarbitch37 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

That was a skinny scary bridge to drive on especially the curve going onto the bridge from the St Charles side and semis were even scarier when you met one in the middle of the bridge Boy those were the days!!!!!!!

Old St. Charles Bridge
Posted March 10, 2006, by Tracey (bandit284 [at] juno [dot] com)

I will always remember riding my bike across the bridge and looking down at the river as kids. I really miss this bridge. I bring my little ones down where is used to stand, and it really seems empty.

Bye Bye to the Old St. Charles Bridge...
Posted October 15, 2005, by TTMM (MEDICINEMAN [at] HOTMAIL [dot] COM)

Dear Old St. Charles Bridge:

Several times I hopped the fence and walked across you in the mid 1990's... in that twilight zone, so to speak... after your closure, before you were torn down....

Pretty trippy experiences... hmmm... maybe that's why someone had enscribed in white paint upon your then quiet roadway: "The Trippin' Bridge!"

Farewell... friend! :(