5 votes

Rock Island Bridge


View from northeast

BH Photo #100953


Street View 


Compiled by James Baughn

Jan. 11, 1853
Little Rock and Memphis Railroad chartered by the Arkansas Legislature
Rail service established between Little Rock and Memphis
Choctaw, Oklahoma, and Gulf Railroad acquired the Little Rock and Memphis Railroad and created a subsidiary company, the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad, to oversee construction of line from Little Rock west into Indian Territory
Mar. 21, 1899
Choctaw and Memphis Railroad awarded construction contract for the bridge
Dec. 10, 1899
First regularly scheduled train service crossed the bridge from Memphis to Oklahoma City
Choctaw Railroad acquired by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad
Rock Island liquidated in bankruptcy court. Union Pacific later acquired Rock Island Bridge.
Dec. 27, 2001
Ownership transferred from Union Pacific to City of Little Rock


Vertical-lift railroad bridge over the Arkansas River in Little Rock at the Clinton Presidential Library. Open to pedestrians.
Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas
Rehabilitation complete. Open for pedestrian traffic as of 10-01-11.
Built 1899 by the Choctaw and Memphis Railroad; lift span added 1972
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (CRIP (1866-1920); RI (1920-1975) ROCK (1975-1980))
- Choctaw, Oklahoma & Gulf Railroad (CO&G)
From north to south:
Two 14-panel Pennsylvania through truss spans
One 12-panel, polygonal Warren through truss vertical lift span
One 14-panel Pennsylvania through truss span
Total length: 1,614.0 ft.
Also called
Clinton Presidential Park Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+34.74870, -92.25869   (decimal degrees)
34°44'55" N, 92°15'31" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/567852/3845425 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Little Rock
Inventory number
BH 10546 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 2, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • April 26, 2016: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • November 30, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • February 28, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Rail-to-trail"
  • February 28, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • August 27, 2013: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • July 6, 2013: New photos from M. D. Caillet
  • September 30, 2012: New photos from Wayne Kizziar
  • October 29, 2011: New photo from Lisa Hyde
  • October 5, 2011: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • October 5, 2011: Updated by Wayne Kizziar: Updated status.
  • June 2, 2010: Updated by David Backlin: Added alternate name
  • April 30, 2008: Updated by Max Johnson
  • June 26, 2005: Posted all new photos from an anonymous source

Related Bridges 


  • Fred Garcia
  • David Backlin - us71 [at] cox [dot] net
  • Wayne Kizziar - waynekizziar [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Lisa Hyde
  • Douglas Butler
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net


Rock Island Bridge
Posted December 18, 2011, by Bill Pollard (arkrail [at] aol [dot] com)

Some additional information about the Rock Island Bridge:

The bridge did indeed have a lift span installed in 1970, (not 1972), but it had nothing to do with any complaints from the City of Little Rock. The bridge, as built, had a swing span with a center pier located at the midway point of the present lift span. As part of the Arkansas River navigation project, all bridges were modified to give a wider opening between piers, ironically so that barges on this government subsidized waterway could better compete with railroads. The swing spans on all three railroad bridges in Little Rock were thus replaced with lift spans at about the same time.

Until the Rock Island's shutdown in March 1980, the lift span of this bridge was controlled remotely from an office in the Biddle yards in south Little Rock, with both TV cameras and radio communication used to coordinate barge and railroad traffic.

Passenger train service continued on this bridge from the time it opened in 1899 until Rock Island passenger service ended in November 1967. Rock Island freight trains continued to use the bridge until Rock Island's shutdown ended service on the Memphis-Little Rock trackage. Cotton Belt operated parts of the Rock Island, including this bridge, for 60 days, and then the Little Rock & Western (a shortline railroad which purchased part of the Rock Island) operated over this bridge daily until approximately November 1984.

During Little Rock & Western's use, there was no remote control function, and the bridge was left open for barge traffic except when a LRWN train was approaching. A railroad employee would climb the ladder into the control house, lower the bridge for the train, and then raise it again, each time the bridge was used.

Details of the attached photos:

12-1969 - view of the original bridge, as construction crews begin the work of changing out the swing span

9-1970 - swing span shifted out (up river) but not yet dismantled, and lift span in place

1-1973 - Rock Island eastbound local (using a leased Rio Grande locomotive) coming off the North Little Rock end of the bridge. There was an elaborate trestle and several bridges carrying the elevated trackage over Washington and Broadway streets in North Little Rock as the track curved eastward and past the now restored Argenta station.

8-1973 - Rock Island eastbound freight train on bridge. The track running left to right under the caboose is the Missouri Pacific's Little Rock-Pine Bluff line, now also relocated. The photo was taken from the historic east Second Street bridge, now also gone.

Rock Island Bridge
Posted October 5, 2011, by Wayne Kizziar (wayne1701 [at] cableone [dot] net)

View this photo on Flickr of pedestrians on the bridge.


Rock Island Bridge
Posted March 10, 2011, by TwBaslee (twbaslee [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Does anyone know how long the lift span is? Thanks in advance!

Rock Island Bridge
Posted January 19, 2008, by Name

This bridge did not have the lift span when it was built.

As I read on another site, the lift span was added in 1972.

The way I read it, the City of Little Rock was sending in letters, telling that river traffic could not go under the bridge, so after 2 or 3 years of complaints, Rock Island closed the bridge in 1971, and mid 1972 reopened with a new lift span.

Sadly, Rock Island only got to use the new lift span for 8 years, until they went bankrupt in 1980.

Rock Island Bridge
Posted April 25, 2007, by Fred Garcia (fandsgarcia [at] gmail [dot] com)

Earth Day festivities were being held on the Clinton Library grounds when I was visiting this bridge on 21 April '07. Attached are two views that will compliment the nice array of photos already posted for this bridge.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.