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MacArthur Bridge

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Photos 

Overview from northwest

Photo taken by James Baughn in September 2008

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Videos 

View of Railroad Bridge from Riverboat in St. Louis

This is the bridge shown on a previous video that Amtrak uses for its Lincoln service into St. Louis. The bridge history is given by a tour guide aboard a sightseeing cruise of St. Louis. Two trains are also shown on the bridge as we pass under it!

Video posted by DYP1420

Play video on YouTube

Exploring the abandoned Municipal Free Bridge

Nice little video with never before seen footage of the automobile road deck

Richard Dinkela

Play video on YouTube

Map 

Street Views 

Timeline 

Compiled by James Baughn

May 23, 1906
Bill submitted to Congress to authorize the City of St. Louis to build a new Mississippi River bridge
June 12, 1906
St. Louis floats a $3.5 million bond issue to pay for the proposed bridge
June 25, 1906
Congress passes bill authorizing construction
July 15, 1907
Construction on west end of bridge begins
May 20, 1909
War Department officially approves final plans
Dec. 20, 1909
Construction of river piers begins
Nov. 6, 1914
Second bond issue worth $2.75 million approved by voters
Jan. 20, 1917
Highway deck opened to traffic
May 16, 1918
Control of the bridge turned over to the Municipal Bridge Commission, composed of 5 city officials
Aug. 31, 1989
St. Louis trades the MacArthur Bridge for the Eads Bridge with the Terminal Railroad Association

Facts 

Overview
Three-span through truss bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, south of the Poplar Street Bridge
Location
St. Louis, Missouri, and St. Clair County, Illinois
Status
Open to railroad traffic only
History
Built 1907-1917 by the City of St. Louis to break the monopoly of the Terminal Railroad Association, which controlled the two other bridges at St. Louis and charged unreasonable tolls. Automobile deck closed to traffic in 1981.
Design
Main spans: Three Pennsylvania through trusses
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 677.0 ft.
Total length: 18,261.0 ft. (3.5 mi.)
Recognition
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Municipal Bridge (original name)
Gen. Douglas MacArthur Bridge (full official name)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.61491, -90.18348   (decimal degrees)
38°36'54" N, 90°11'01" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/745226/4277806 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Cahokia
Inventory number
BH 22643 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 2, 2013: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • January 11, 2013: New photo from Mark Dellbringge
  • March 23, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Amtrak", "Union Pacific Railroad", "Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway"
  • October 8, 2011: New photos from Ben Tate
  • September 5, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • September 2, 2011: New photo from Mark Dellbringge
  • February 28, 2011: New video from Kim Harvey
  • February 15, 2011: New photo from Mark Dellbringge
  • September 26, 2010: New photos from Mark Dellbringge
  • September 20, 2010: Updated by Mark Dellbringge: Updated history
  • September 19, 2010: New photos from Mark Dellbringge
  • September 13, 2010: New photos from Eric Kinkhorst
  • May 9, 2010: New photos from Robert Stephenson
  • April 5, 2010: New Street View added by James Baughn
  • January 4, 2010: New photos from Richard Dale
  • September 8, 2009: New photos from James Baughn
  • November 25, 2008: Updated by Kim Harvey: added categories and a URL
  • November 7, 2008: New photos from Nathan Morton
  • September 18, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • February 24, 2008: Removed broken link
  • September 26, 2005: Added postcards

Sources 

Comments 

MacArthur Bridge
Posted December 26, 2013, by Nicotti (prisoneratwar [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Drove past yesterday (12/25/13). The road deck has has been removed from half the bridge. Only the MO side remains.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted April 6, 2013, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

I recently drove past and saw construction equipment on the automotive deck of the east main span. And it appears the automotive deck no longer extends to the east end of the east main span. Is this recent? I see some comments about the automotive deck, but I'm not sure if there is work going on now.

Here is a photo I took from Poplar Street bridge of the eastern main span. The automobile deck is missing eastward.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 13, 2012, by Ben Tate (benji5221 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I see what James is talking about. Google Maps, not satellite, shows "MacArthur Bridge (Planned)" where the road name usually is.

https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=38.615139,-90.185743&spn=0.0...

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 13, 2012, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

You're likely just seeing remains from the old road that used to cross the bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 13, 2012, by James Simmons (james [at] simmons [dot] net)

Google Maps claims some route is planned across the bridge...does anyone know anything about this?

MacArthur Bridge
Posted June 20, 2012, by Anita McKinney (newtonmac [at] msn [dot] com)

Has it ever been revealed how many workers died while building this bridge? My GG-uncle was a structural iron worker and died from an 80 ft fall from the bridge on 3-6-1912. His name was Clyde Frazier.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted January 27, 2012, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

A railroad worker just fell to his death this week from the bridge.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/crime-and-courts/railroad...

MacArthur Bridge - Anything Bad happen here
Posted December 7, 2011, by Diana (the_huntress [at] comcast [dot] net)

I am sure many things bad have happened. I will add one sad article related to my family history research. The woman in the article is my grandfather's first cousin. This is from the East St Louis Journal on Dec 21 1937 during the depression.

NOTE: In 1942 the Municipal Bridge was renamed to the MacArthur bridge

Diana

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 20, 2011, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Let's hope that is the case. Should the railroad decide to abandon the bridge, there would be a massive crusade to save it for recreational purposes. I know one who would sacrifice everything he had for it....

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 20, 2011, by Mark Dellbringge (markdellbringge [at] netzero [dot] net)

Jason - Perhaps those were old railroad ties being replaced.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 17, 2011, by Kim Harvey

This bridge was in this old movie "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery" which was made in 1959.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMlQyTmi-DE

The bridge (and Eads Bridge) is featured in the first 2 minutes of the film.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted March 28, 2011, by Chris Litherland (photolitherland [at] gmail [dot] com)

I saw this bridge and photographed it a few months ago on my visit to St. Louis, and wow, what a bridge and what an awesome urban city. Freakin loved it, anyways, here some photos.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted February 21, 2011, by Lucasey (ebuymotors [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Thank you for posting the comment below which only confirms my memory of my father telling us young children that semi-truck drivers would often go over the guard rails into the river below because they were not paying attention while driving. With those erie flashing yellow lights and sharp turns and a vivid imagination at age 8 it is no wonder crossing bridges is a white knuckle affair for me today. I have to turn off the radio to concentrate.

We lived in Cahokia and mom took dad to work at A.B. This was in 1960's era but like yesterday when I visit St. Louis today - especially driving over the chain of rocks bridge during route 66 motor tour... and people getting out of their cars, causing the traffic tour to come to a halt in the middle of the bridge. S...t! Never again.

"The subject of bridges has come up in conversation lately, with the tragedy in Minnesota. I was thinking of the only bridge I was ever fearful of, and the MacArthur Bridge came to mind. My recollections are as a small boy at the time in the late 1950's and early 60's.

I grew up in southern Illinois, about 2 hours south of St. Louis, and we would make the trip several times a year. In those days, there were no interstate highways, and we would travel up IL Route 3. I recall the bridge having a very Gothic type architecture. Very foreboding, especially at night. All of the structure was black, and the approaches had relatively sharp turns. There was a multitude of yellow caution lights and warning signs that added to the effect. Semi-trucks would often mishandle these turns, and become "jacknifed" with the cab hanging over the short guardrails. From a childs perspective, the crossing of the bridge was a scary experience.

The other element I recall, was the stench from the pre-EPA Monsanto plant on the Illinois side of the bridge"

MacArthur Bridge
Posted January 19, 2011, by lyon_wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Here's a couple of articles on the proposal of using the MacArthur for pedestrians/bicycles.

http://rogerkramercycling.org/blog/?p=1489

http://stlelsewhere.blogspot.com/2010/08/som-bridge-han-rive...

IMO, the MacArthur would need rehab work to make it into a pedestrian bridge since the eastern approach and some of the former upper vehicle deck were removed a few years ago. A brand new eastern approach to the MacArthurís upper deck would have to be built, and the former vehicle deck would likely need rehabbing or even replacement too.

Here's a diagram that includes a new eastern approach span.

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_xgLyP-rB8F8/THDv-bPn9HI/AAAAAAAACy...

There's also an alternate proposal to build a completely new pedestrian span right next to the Poplar St Bridge. I guess they'll have to weigh the cost of building a new bridge against that of reusing/rebuilding the MacArthur's upper level for pedestrian use, and whether the TRRA would cooperate in rehabbing the bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 7, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

May not for motor vehicles,but I've noticed on KTVI-2 that there is plans for the Arch expansion that the MacArthur will be used as a pedestrian/bike bridge. It looks gorgeous in the plans I saw. Has the name painted in white on one of the beams. It was something else.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 5, 2010, by Albert E. Bertram (abertram8297 [at] charter [dot] net)

I don't think that the MacArthur Bridge will ever be reopened for motor vehicles again. They have removed the motor vehicle deck on the Illinois side all the way to the main trusses over the Mississippi River. Now that the new Mississippi River bridge (I-70) is under construction between the MLK and McKinley Bridges, I think that it is a dead issue. However, I think that the MacArthur Bridge will be around for a long time as it feeds directly into the Lesperance Street and Gratiot Street railroad yards on the Missouri side and the Gateway yard on the Illinois side, which is the largest railroad yard in the metro area.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted June 3, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

Some more photos of the MacArthur Bridge,this time with a train on the bridge,taken 5.17.10.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted April 19, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

2 photos of the MacArthur Bridge taken from the Poplar taken from my cousin's camera phone. Taken today,4.19.10 during the ceremony for the new bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted March 6, 2010, by Madison

Scroll down to "Free Bridge" on this website. They have some photographs of the bridge on opening day.

http://www.usgennet.org/usa/mo/county/stlouis/kempland/glass...

MacArthur Bridge
Posted March 5, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

On Page 111 of Never Been A Time By Harper Barnes,there is a ghostly picture of what they term the 'Free Bridge' Our MacArthur Bridge. If you read this book check it out.

MacArthur Bridge upper deck photos
Posted March 3, 2010, by kyle

I have recently found a page that contains a lot of upper deck pictures that were taken sometime after the new year(2010). The link can be found by typing this address in:

(http://www.flickr.com/photos/pasa/sets/72157623095307747/).

If you want to see how the upper deck of the MaCarthur bridge looks today, check out these photos.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted February 26, 2010, by Chalon Harper (camowolf95 [at] live [dot] com)

http://www.amazon.com/Never-Been-Time-Sparked-Movement/dp/08...

Never Been A Time was from the riots of 1917. I ordered it,seemed like a really troubled time in our history,and the General Mac here withstood it all. I have ordered this from my local library. My father has a doctorate in history and I think I've inherited his love of it. To love our bridges you must I think love history too.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted February 8, 2010, by Chris (christopher [dot] vaugh [at] doc [dot] mo [dot] gov)

Is there anyway of getting on the closed top deck right over the river to take pictures?

MacArthur Bridge
Posted February 3, 2010, by Mickey Lambert and Chalon Harper (highlandwolf64 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Some photos we took on December 14,2009 going into St.Charles,Mo. Two here of the Mac.I have been fascinated by the Mac since a child going over it.(Mickey) There was a freight train going over it at the time these photos were taken. It was a gloomy cloudy day and these two were the best.

Both were taken from the Poplar Street Bridge.

Poplar is a very boring bridge(Chalon)

MacArthur Bridge
Posted December 14, 2009, by Chris (chrisandoe [at] gmail [dot] com)

Heather asked if anything bad ever happened on this bridge and the answer is yes. During the East St. Louis race riot many African Americans were forced to jump off the new bridge as they tried to flee.

From "Never Been A Time" by Harper Barnes

MacArthur Bridge
Posted November 22, 2009, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

The link below is an online article at the local newspaper's website. It includes a photo from the opening day of the bridge, January 20, 1917.

http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/stlouiscit...

MacArthur Bridge
Posted October 27, 2009, by Catherine (bluzgirl76 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Now that they have re-done the MLK bridge, traffic is horrendous coming from IL. It would really be wonderful if they could refurbish the MacArthur Bridge to help relieve traffic. I've always been intrigued by this bridge and would love to see it in use for auto traffic again. Thanks for the great site!

MacArthur Bridge
Posted October 20, 2009, by Lyon_Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

If this bridge is ever replaced TRRA would likely get us taxpayers to cover the cost for a new bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted October 16, 2009, by John Oechsner (bigtex144 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I agree with the below comments, something about this bridge makes it very eerie, daunting, and almost ghostly. Last month I was parked near the bridge when I decided to go take a peak. I was completely awestruck when I saw a good portion of the original approach and roadbed still in place, albeit very direlect. I took the opprotunity to take as many pictures as I could of the old western road approach and attached a few here.

I think aslong as TRRA is using it, it has life and won't be replaced anytime soon. But I'd all but guarantee the roadbed will never be used again. Afterall, with 3 other bridges (Poplar St., Eads, and MLK) within a few blocks of the MacArthur, there's no point in restoring it.

Something about old structures has always completely fascinated me, so to be able to see and feel with my own hands this structure that once was a living breathing part of the city, something taken for granted and used thoughtlessly everyday, once a grand and proud piece of modern engineering...now be stripped of its diginity and abandoned, left to the elements to dismantle it bit by bit...once vital to the city, now in the way...

Ha...ok so maybe that does only pertain to the roadbed... at least the rail is still alive and well afterall :)

MacArthur Bridge
Posted April 14, 2009, by jack (jackkav [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

is this the bridge thats close to UP shunting yards and TRRA tracks?

MacArthur Bridge
Posted March 23, 2009, by Kim Harvey

one of the IL railroad approach trestles has at least 4 different through truss spans, with 3 being over old railroad yards.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted January 23, 2009, by Albert E. Bertram (abertram8297 [at] charter [dot] net)

I found it interesting to read the various comments about the MacArthur Bridge. As a child, I travelled it many times with my parents when we went to visit my grandparents who lived just south of downtown in the Compton Hill neighborhood. I always enjoyed the view. I watched the entire Poplar Street bridge complex being built while travelling on the MacArthur Bridge during the mid-60's Some interesting things about the bridge were that for a long time, it had three lanes, with the middle lane being a kind of "no man's land." Sometime in the late 60's or early 70's, they restriped it to just two lanes. Up until the early 60's, when they put in an interchange at the west end of the bridge at Ralston Purina, you just came off the bridge directly onto 7th street, which was kind of hazardous. As to bad things happening with the bridge, there used to be a notorious tavern on Illinois Route 3 almost directly under the bridge. Early one morning sometime in the early 70's, someone went up on the bridge, parked their car, and fired shots from a high-power rifle into the tavern, killing several people. I don't believe the murders were ever solved.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted December 17, 2008, by Wes Kinsler (wkinsler [at] wkinsler [dot] com)

Why not do to this bridge what was done to the McKinley Bridge? It is a massive bridge built to handle rail and auto traffic, so it should be posible to use it just for auto and pedestrian traffic. Replace the deck and approachs and paint it.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 29, 2008, by Randy Brush

Thank you for photo. It will be 100 year old. State dept. of transportment will check this bridge. It is poor condition.

Future prospects; Scheduled for replacement soon or about summer 2015.

THANK YOU.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted August 11, 2007, by Brent (eelb [at] comcast [dot] net)

The subject of bridges has come up in conversation lately, with the tragedy in Minnesota. I was thinking of the only bridge I was ever fearful of, and the MacArthur Bridge came to mind. My recollections are as a small boy at the time in the late 1950's and early 60's.

I grew up in southern Illinois, about 2 hours south of St. Louis, and we would make the trip several times a year. In those days, there were no interstate highways, and we would travel up IL Route 3. I recall the bridge having a very Gothic type architecture. Very foreboding, especially at night. All of the structure was black, and the approaches had relatively sharp turns. There was a multitude of yellow caution lights and warning signs that added to the effect. Semi-trucks would often mishandle these turns, and become "jacknifed" with the cab hanging over the short guardrails. From a childs perspective, the crossing of the bridge was a scary experience.

The other element I recall, was the stench from the pre-EPA Monsanto plant on the Illinois side of the bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted August 8, 2007, by Chris (naffziger [at] gmail [dot] com)

The railroad company that owns the bridge has absolutely no plans to reopen the bridge to auto traffic. It would cost them money to replace the deck, with little gain to themselves. But I agree, wouldn't it be great to have at least 2 more lanes going across the Mississippi? Perhaps the bridge could carry reversible express lanes across the river.

Also, this is the bridge that carries Amtrak across the river.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted April 16, 2007, by Mark Dellbringge

The MacArthur Bridge was closed to auto traffic in 1981. When I was a teen I remember riding my bike across the bridge and feel the auto deck vibrate whenever a train crossed the bridge on the lower level. It would be nice to see this bridge completely refurbished. Over 40 years ago this bridge was once part of the U.S. highway system (designated US 460), the bridge marked the western terminus of this highway.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted February 6, 2007, by Anonymous

Are they planning to tear the whole upper road deck out?

MacArthur Bridge
Posted January 29, 2007, by Heather (lyoness0808 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Has anything bad ever happened under this bridge? I have had dreams about this bridge for years, and it's always bad dreams, that something bad and dark and scary has happened under it....does anyone have any history on it?

MacArthur Bridge
Posted December 24, 2006, by RD (rwdale75 [at] verizon [dot] net)

Does anyone know if they tore the entire eastern road deck out all the way to 10th street or did they just start tearing it out from the section they removed in 1989.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 20, 2006, by Anonymous (- - - - - - - - -)

I think it would be a great idea to connect the West and East road ramp approaches to the highway for overflow traffic on the Poplar Street Bridge while still connecting it to the original route.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 20, 2006, by Anonymous (---------------------------)

I think it would be great if they connected the East and West road ramp approaches to the highway as a back up for overflow traffic on the Poplar Street Bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 16, 2006, by Anonymous

The highway deck was closed to traffic in 1981 due to pavement deterioration. That same year the western ramp approaches were ripped out.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted September 15, 2006, by Mitch (mhartsey [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I see that someone is tearing out the upper deck on the bridge. Too bad. I always wanted to get up there somehow and take pictures of the city.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted July 23, 2006, by Chris (mocub [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Acually, it just depends on railroad traffic for the day. If the MacArthur bridge is backed up, Amtrak will go North along the riverfront and cross the Mississippi on the Merchants Bridge.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted June 5, 2006, by Mike McGinnis (mikesfree [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

It is where the amtrack crosses. It is the only way for a common person to cross the river on this bridge now. Get a window seat.

MacArthur Bridge
Posted May 29, 2006, by tom (tomfontana [at] charter [dot] net)

I am taking Amtrak to Chicago in August, and was sondering where I would cross the Mississippi river. Is this the bridge that I will be crossing when i leave from St. Louis?

Thanks,

Tom