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Eads Bridge

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Photos 

Oblique view from southwest

Photo taken by James Baughn

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Map 

Street Views 

Timeline 

Compiled by James Baughn

1839
Charles Ellet proposes building a suspension bridge across the Mississippi, but the project is rejected by the city as too expensive
1855
Josiah Dent of St. Louis receives permission to build a suspension railroad bridge, but cannot raise enough money
1856
John A. Roebling proposes a suspension bridge, but this venture is also unsuccessful
1866
Congress issues charter authorizing the St. Louis and Illinois Bridge Co. to build a bridge in downtown St. Louis, but with several restrictions intended to cripple the project
1867
Company selects James Eads as engineer-in-chief
Feb. 25, 1868
Cornerstone laid on top of bedrock for the west abutment
Mar. 5, 1868
The company buys out the rival Illinois and St. Louis Bridge Co., which unsuccessfully tried to sabotage the project
Feb. 28, 1870
East channel pier caisson reaches bedrock
Apr. 1, 1870
West pier reaches bedrock
Mar. 8, 1871
Tornado causes one death and $50,000 in damage
Apr. 30, 1871
East abutment caisson completed
Feb. 1870
Keystone Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh contracted to erect the steel arches
May 24, 1874
Upper roadway deck opened to pedestrians
June 9, 1874
First train crosses the rail deck
July 4, 1874
Bridge officially dedicated with a 15-mile long parade, inaugural train ride, speeches, and fireworks display
Apr. 14, 1875
Bridge company files for receivership because of delays in securing paying passenger train service
Dec. 20, 1878
Bridge sold at auction for $2.0 million
1881
Railroad magnate Jay Gould acquires the bridge and eventually the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis gains control
1974
Last Amtrak train crosses the bridge and the rails are later removed
Oct. 21, 1974
Designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark
Aug. 31, 1989
St. Louis acquires the bridge in a trade with the Terminal Railroad Association for the MacArthur Bridge
1993
MetroLink light rail service across the lower deck of the bridge begins operation
July 4, 2003
Upper deck is officially opened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic

Facts 

Overview
Three-span steel arch bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis
Location
St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Clair County, Illinois
Status
Top deck open to four lanes of traffic with a pedestrian lane, bottom deck open to two tracks of MetroLink light rail service
History
Built 1869-1874 under the direction of engineer James Buchanan Eads; automobile deck closed 1989 - 2003 for rehabilitation and replacement; reopened July 4, 2003
Builders
- Illinois & St. Louis Bridge Co.
- James Buchanan Eads of Lawrenceburg, Indiana (Designer)
- Kelly-Atkinson Construction Co. of Chicago, Illinois
- Keystone Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Substructure)
Design
Steel arch
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 533.0 ft.
Total length: 4,024.9 ft. (0.8 mi.)
Deck width: 45.9 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.62879, -90.17890   (decimal degrees)
38°37'44" N, 90°10'44" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/745577/4279360 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Granite City
Inventory numbers
NRHP 66000946 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
MONBI 12992 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 22625 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 11/2012)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Appraisal: Functionally obsolete
Sufficiency rating: 69.3 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2012)
2,000

Update Log 

  • August 3, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builders
  • October 15, 2012: New photo from Clark Vance
  • February 28, 2012: New photo from Gene Smania
  • January 28, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "MetroLink"
  • October 8, 2011: New photos from Ben Tate
  • September 20, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • September 1, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 31, 2011: New photo from Jim Grey
  • May 1, 2011: New photos from James McCray
  • February 15, 2011: New photos from Mark Dellbringge
  • February 7, 2011: New photos from Mark Dellbringge
  • December 18, 2010: New photo from Eddie Douthitt
  • September 13, 2010: New photo from Eric Kinkhorst
  • July 16, 2010: New Street View added by Jacob P. Bernard
  • May 9, 2010: New photos from Robert Stephenson
  • April 15, 2010: New photos from J.P.
  • April 5, 2010: New Street View added by James Baughn
  • November 28, 2009: Posted HAER photos
  • February 26, 2007: Posted all new photos

Sources 

  • HAER MO-12 - Eads Bridge
  • Wikipedia
  • John Reidy
  • J.P. - wildcatjon2000 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Robert Stephenson - seinfeld99 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Jacob P. Bernard - jacob_bernard [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Eric Kinkhorst - erick [dot] bud [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Eddie Douthitt - eddied1962 [at] charter [dot] net
  • James McCray - jamesinslocomb [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Mark Dellbringge
  • Jim Grey - mobilene [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Jason Smith - JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net
  • Ben Tate - benji5221 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Clark Vance - cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com
  • Luke

Comments 

Eads Bridge
Posted August 12, 2013, by Robert Elder

I suspect that our spammer is a computer...

Eads Bridge
Posted August 11, 2013, by Matt Lohry

What happened? Did someone let their 2-year-old get a hold of their smartphone?

Eads Bridge
Posted November 20, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Thanks, I was curious if that was going on. While the rehab is great, getting pristine photos free of clutter might be a challange from here on out. I was hoping to get down there and get some photos beforehand, but I may be too late.

Eads Bridge
Posted November 20, 2012, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

Nathan, I drove over the bridge yesterday. The four-lane deck has traffic redused to two lanes on the south side. There were at least four hang-down-over-the-edge scaffolding rigs over the north railing for working lower than the deck. The deck appears to be in good shape and not receiving any attention.

Eads Bridge
Posted November 13, 2012, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

I drove past last week. I saw cables on the new I-70 bridge north of Eads, but didn't notice any scaffolds, gear, or other evidence of work. But I did not drive over it.

Eads Bridge
Posted November 13, 2012, by Nathan Holth

Anybody live near this bridge? I am curious if any of the rehab work has begun and if so what it looks like.

Eads Bridge
Posted September 14, 2012, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)
Eads Bridge
Posted August 5, 2012, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

An illustration from 1875:

http://docsouth.unc.edu/nc/king/ill173.html

Eads Bridge
Posted January 31, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

You are indeed correct here Ed!

Most of today's bridges are "under-designed"...by design.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 30, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Ed, OK I see, yeah that makes a lot more sense now.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 27, 2012, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Nathan, I don't think you understood my meaning. I was saying, in a kind of sarcastic way that 'they don't build them like they used too!' If you built a bridge like the Eads today the contractors would take you outside and hang you! The goal is to build bridges that need replacement every 40 years. Bridges like the "Cline Avenue Bridge" are nearer ideal in the modern world of engineering!

Eads Bridge
Posted January 25, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

It is a matter of perspective to say he wasted material. For a bridge that perhaps was overbuilt in his day, it probably isn't overbuilt today given increased modern loading requirements. Most bridges built during the time of the Eads Bridge have been demolished because they were not able to support modern loads.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 24, 2012, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Well I think any untrained wantabe 'engineer' can overbuild a bridge to last 150 years. It takes a highly trained modern engineer using the best modern tools to build a bridge that falls apart right on schedule at about fourty years! Eads had no idea how much he wasted by overbuilding that bridge the way he did!

Eads Bridge
Posted January 24, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I guess from a technical standpoint you are correct...he never received a degree in civil engineering from any university. He was, however, self educated to the point where his achievements would seem to make that a moot point.

His Mississippi River Bridge is the true testament to his talents and abilities. I doubt that any formally trained civil engineer of today could do any better.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 24, 2012, by Andy Jankowski (andyj [at] hometel [dot] com)

Eades was not an engineer.

Eads Bridge
Posted March 7, 2011, by Mark Dellbringge

A few photos of the eastern end of the Eads Bridge showing 1896 tornado damage aftermath, are at this link.

(Photos are copyrighted so I can't download them to put on website.)

http://www.usgennet.org/usa/mo/county/stlouis/cyclone/1896p7.htm

Eads Bridge
Posted February 20, 2011, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

The following link is to Missouri History Museum's St. Louis River Scenes set at Flickr. There's some old photos of the bridge in this collection.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/mohistory/sets/72157622914145514/with/4454235785/

Eads Bridge
Posted February 5, 2011, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

The link will take you to an image of the bridge from 1931. It's part of the "Look Back" album at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about ice in the Mississippi River.

http://stltoday.mycapture.com/mycapture/enlarge.asp?image=33974440&event=1165522&CategoryID=23105

Eads Bridge
Posted August 29, 2010, by Dale DeVine (deVinebobbie [at] aol [dot] com)

My Great Grandfather, William Peter Devine, a stone mason, from Ireland worked on the Eads Bridge and his name appeared on a plaque installed on the bridge. In addition, he worked on the rock wall at Shaw's Garden. He was hired by Mr. Shaw on the boat coming to America. Mr. Shaw was returning on his second trip. My Great-Grandfather lived and raised his family at 18th and Chouteau.

Eads Bridge
Posted August 20, 2010, by Mark Dellbringge

Hey Craig! - I think the lights were installed in 1981. I remember seeing them on while visiting the Old Spaghetti Factory on Laclede's Landing in 1982.

Eads Bridge lit up in blue
Posted April 22, 2010, by Craig (parketheo [at] aol [dot] com)

Does anyone remember what year it was what the Eads was lit up with those blue lights? My dad has this fantastic photograph of the bridge and I'm wondering when it was likely taken. He told me these blue lights shone for a very brief time, and they were quickly turned off because they took so much energy to keep on. Anyone know?

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Eads Bridge
Posted February 26, 2010, by Spaceman Spiff

How long is the Eads Bridge, really? Or perhaps the question is where do you begin measuring he length of the bridge? I ask because the longest of three spans is reported to be 533' (or 520' in other sources) while the overall length is reported to be over 4000'. If the span measurement is correct, the three spans and the arched approaches seem closer to 2000' than 4000'. To make matters more confusing, the overall length of the bridge is reported in other sources to be 6442'. I love the bridge. I'm just trying to figure out what I'm missing.

Eads Bridge
Posted February 23, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

There should be two engineers required for study. James Buchanan Eads and Conde Balcom McCullough. Two geniuses way ahead of their time.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 13, 2010, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

We LOVE our bridges! We aren't fond of DOT's that disrespect bridges.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This is a LOVE only site......no hate allowed here!

Eads Bridge
Posted January 13, 2010, by Anonymous (mrwalk08 [at] aol [dot] com)

If you hate bridges, invest in a canoe.

Eads Bridge
Posted January 13, 2010, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Hate what?

Eads Bridge
Posted January 13, 2010, by lili (srthysrtjusr [at] aol [dot] com)

i hate this so much

you have no idea!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eads Bridge
Posted December 31, 2009, by John Moravec (john [at] doorcountycamp [dot] com)

140 years old, and still carrying everyday rail and Interstate highway traffic. They don't make them like this anymore. James Eads should be required study for all engineers.

Eads Bridge
Posted November 29, 2009, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

I was looking at the images from the HAER report. The photos were taken in May of 1983 by Jet Lowe. I checked the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service page to find the out the Mississippi River level because the river was flooding. The river crested at 39 ft on May 4, 1983. In one of the images, I can see the shadow of the photographer and his tripod in the flood water.

The highest recorded flood level was 49.58 ft on 08/01/1993.

Information from this site:

http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=lsx&gage=eadm7&view=1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

Eads Bridge
Posted October 11, 2009, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

In late 2010, maintenance work will begin on this bridge and take about two years to complete. The work will be done on the MetroLink portion of the bridge below the road deck. MetroLink received stimulus money that is restricted to capital projects. A new road deck was completed in 2003.

The full article can be read here:

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscitycounty/story/655A79F6C407F5E28625764D0002AA46?OpenDocument

Eads Bridge
Posted February 21, 2009, by Randy Lockett (rklockent [at] sbcglobal [dot] net )

I lived for 8 years in St. Louis. My brothers still live in the county. I have crossed the bridge many times with little thought to its creation and saga of one James Eads.

If you are a St. Louisian and have not read the life story of James Eads, you will not truely understand the trauma and toil he suffered to get this bridge built. A book of his life, "Road to the Sea" and the Mississippi River, by Florence Dorsey, was mesmerizing.

Modern St. Louis is enriched by his efforts. This bridge is a testament to his perserverance. It is still one of the most beautiful bridges in the world. That it has weathered tremors, earthquakes and the elements is testament to his great labor and design.

Eads Bridge
Posted October 5, 2007, by darrell clendenin (dmclendenin [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I lived in Illinois and worked for wohl shoe co on washington ave and use to drive that bridge everyday was a dime toll as I recall. I loved that bridge and Mc A that came out at the dog food co checker board square i think. anyway just a note we all love the bridge

Eads Bridge
Posted August 12, 2007, by Anonymous

I was born and raised in St. Louis. My father, who is a history buff, told me all about the bridge many times throughout my childhood and its mystique stuck with me. After all these years I still never tire of seeing it. I took the image below at sunrise in August of 2005. Coincidentally, my childhood neighborhood in Crestwood was next to the old Eads mansion which was demolished when I-44 was constructed.

That this wonderful structure is in use again after many years of neglect is one of the great success stories in historic bridge renovation. The lower train deck has been refurbished for use by the Metrolink light rail service and the upper road deck carries vehicular traffic.

Fans of the bridge should be aware of the book "The Eads Bridge". Originally published in 1979, it was out of print for many years until 1999 when a 2nd edition was published by the Missouri Historical Society Press. There is a remarkable, extensive black and white photographic essay and a companion history about the construction of the bridge. It's a wonderful publication.

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Eads Bridge
Posted December 19, 2006, by Terry Glass (tglass_13 [at] charter [dot] net)

I really miss the blue lights that used to shine acrossed the bridge. I wish someone could start a fund raiser to light it up again. It is a beautiful piece of St. Louis History and deserves the same lighting and respect as the Old Courthouse, Cathedral and the arch.

Light the bridge

Eads Bridge
Posted November 22, 2006, by meredith (meredithz13 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

My grandfather helped construct this bridge. He was one of the civil engineers that worked on it. I am proud of his work!

Eads Bridge
Posted June 26, 2006, by Donald Sowder (dsowder [at] oncliq [dot] net)

I have been a fan of old and/or unusual bridges for most of my 74 years. I appreciate the fine pictures and the information found at this website. Mr.Eads went on to contribute many engineering innovations on the Mississippi River.

Eads Bridge
Posted September 14, 2005, by george (gharaka [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I am reading a book " Rising Tides" which describes the building of this bridge and all the people involved.

I thank you for having so much good information on this site about this and other brdges