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Frenchmans Bluff Bridge


Oblique view

Photo taken by James Baughn

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BH Photo #105971


Lost through truss bridge over Cuivre River on Frenchmans Bluff Road northeast of Troy
Lincoln County, Missouri
Destroyed by an overweight truck on July 22, 2006
Built 1886 by the King Bridge Co.
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
Pin-connected, 10-panel Pratt through truss
Total length: 199.1 ft.
Deck width: 15.7 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.3 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.00481, -90.94696   (decimal degrees)
39°00'17" N, 90°56'49" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/677772/4319315 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 49 N., R. 1 E., Sec. 18
Inventory numbers
MONBI 19261 (Missouri bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 21911 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 9, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • June 6, 2005: Posted new photos


  • Geoff Hubbs


Frenchmans Bluff
Posted December 29, 2009, by anna (annaswenson2 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Hi, I have a question for you about Frenchmen's bluff. My grd daughter is writing a report on Missouri and I can't remember if the Indians (native Americans) ran the frenchmen off the bluff or vice versa...could you clarify this for me??? Thanks

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted March 21, 2007, by Harvey Henkelman (makechoochoogonow [at] msn [dot] com)

I'm willing to bet that the truck driver could not read english.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted March 5, 2007, by erin colbert (lil_meatball_18 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

im gonna run over the little mail carrier that runied our bridge. ive had some good memories on thet bridge. if i ever see that out of state jackass ill through him off a bridge.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted January 16, 2007, by David Gossett (dagossett yahoo com)

The amazing thing about this bridge was that the driver actually made it across the bridge! When he couldn't make the hard left on the east end of the bridge he tried backing up over it when it collapsed! What an unnecessary loss.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted October 1, 2006, by Brian (interwoven [at] hotmail [dot] com)

What a tragic loss of a landmark. As a driver with a CDL I can say with certainy that this is an inexcusable error for a driver to make. Posted weight limits and bridge heights are not to be ignored due to the danger you put other citizens in and the cost that it takes to repair the damage. This is simply a mistake there is no excuse for. A pre-trip inspection involves such small details as making sure there are no stones between your dual wheels to cleaning loose debris off of your trailer landing gear...this is one of the most critical mistakes a driver can make.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted September 14, 2006, by Karen (Nascarbitch37 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

This bridge will be sorely sorely missed. I remember when I moved here in the 80's and the bridge was falling apart with the spaces between the boards it was quite scary back then but it was improved to a usable bridge that was history to our county.

But there is one more bridge like it still standing in Lincoln County Thank Goodness!!!! Unless some dummy decides he dont know how to read weight signs

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 10, 2006, by Kelham, Chad M (cmkelham [at] bsu [dot] edu)

If memory serves me well, the Frenchmans Bluff bridge accident is just one of many examples of sheer incompetence on the driver's part, not the DOT's, not the County Highway Department's either. Yes, you guessed right, it's the driver's fault & nobody else's.

As a semi driver, he should have (& is supposed to know) known that his truck - 19 tons of goodies or so - wouldn't have been able to make it across that bridge in the first place. I mean, you should realize how ominous the sight of a "Weight Limit 4 Tons" sign is, no matter where you place the sign. Talk about someone not only forgetting to do the math but also not realizing the consequences of ignoring a simple little sign that confirms how much weight the bridge can handle. (The end result is obvious enough so I won't go into it here.)

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 8, 2006, by mt (mt [at] yh [dot] com)

What a sad loss for our community.. as for some of the comments about not reading road signs, etc... the fact remains, the driver had to negotiate some pretty tough turns just to get to the bridge in the first place!

And that granted.. there was no place for him to turn around as well.. As another poster stated.. its actually better for us locals, (or tourists) for that matter, that he did back up... otherwise, someone else would've collapsed the bridge.

If any locals are reading this.. There are two gorgeous scenes of the bridge on the front and back cover of the Lincoln County Mirror (Winter2005) (not to mention the Lovely Leah, who used to be a checker at Wal-Mart)

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 2, 2006, by James Adorno (adorno_423_937 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

While we may not all be perfect, there is a line between a mistake and sheer stupidity. This falls on the side of stupidity. They have limits for reasons. If someone with a heart defect gets on a roller coaster, and dies, the blam should be placed on the person,not the coaster. The blame should be placed on the driver....not the bridge, not the state DOT, not the municipality...the DRIVER. A 19 ton truck on a 4 ton limit bridge? Let the guy put 20 pounds of gold, or silver, or whatever in a box that has a capacity of 4 pounds...would he take the time to take the safe way, or risk it on a gamble. This was a tragic instance of stupidity on the part of the driver...not the bridge...

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 1, 2006, by Darrin (darrinwilliams [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Jonathan, you and Chris are missing a very important point. That would be the potential danger the truck driver put everyone living in that area in.

Thank goodness this man wasn't able to negotiate the curve after he first crossed the bridge. If he hadn't had to back up and try to negotiate the curve a second time, the bridge would, in all likelihood, still be standing and one of the locals could have crossed that bridge and THEN it would've collapsed.

No matter how you look at this event, common sense was not used. I know of two swinging bridges featured on this site that had deck failure due to overweight trucks:

Upper Swinging Bridge in Warsaw (5 ton limit): In 1975 a truck driver attemted to cross the bridge with his truck that weighed 40 tons. 100 feet of the deck collapsed and he drowned.

Beuchter Swinging Bridge in Miller County (2 ton limit): In 2000, a recent hire of the (county?) highway department attempted to drive his dump truck across the bridge. In his defense, there is a bad curve preceding the approach. It was said he didn't know about the bridge. The deck collapsed, the truck flipped upside down before it crashed into the creek and the driver drowned.

In addition to these two incidents, there was another incident back in 1965 where a farmer tried to cross a swinging bridge across the South Grand River near Warsaw in his farm truck (weighing an estimated 35-40 tons). Unfortunately, this tragedy also took the life of his wife and son.

With the exception of the Beuchter Bridge incident, all others were NOT mistakes. They were a result of a total lack of common sense.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 1, 2006, by Jonathan Maxwell (maxweljc [at] email [dot] uc [dot] edu)

I concur; it is indeed a terrible loss due to a rather foolish error. However, I also agree with Chris's comment down below:

"Posted Sunday, July 30, 2006, by Chris

I hate to see this bridge gone also, but hae even more to see a person being persecuted because of a mistake he made by all you you perfect people..."

I cannot believe the mean, spiteful comments people are saying...over a bridge! You know, things like, "Can't read; don't drive," "Stupid is forever," etc. How often does the average driver ignore signs on the roadway? Many of us do so every day! Remember, this man was a USPS truck driver, trying to get our stuff to us in a timely fashion. The same people complaining that he destroyed the bridge would have also been the ones calling the post office incessantly saying, "Where's my package?"

I am NOT justifying what the truck driver did; it was certainly NOT a smart move. But I am upset over how vindictive and fickle people can be. (Remember WWJD?) The same folks ready to lynch the truck driver would probably moan and groan to a state trooper at a traffic stop, reiterating, "I was only going 80," or "I'm only a little tipsy." And finally, as for the one comment praising Singapore-style laws and fines, if the writer likes them so much, then why doesn't he move to Singapore? I'm sorry, I know it sounds cynical, but if he likes living in a pseudo-Republic with pseudo-freedom, then he is free to go!


Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted August 1, 2006, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

It is really ashame that another artefact like this bridge had to go because of unintellegence and neglect, like a driver going across a rather fragile bridge carrying a load that the bridge was never able to handle. As coach T. Cheney from Temple Univ. said when a fan threw that soft drink on the basketball court earlier this year "Remember, stupid is forever." I hope the driver will not only lose his license permanently for this incident, but I hope he gets prosecuted for this matter. The state as well as the national government should really enforce Singapore-style fine systems, where drivers driving across such bridges like this with a load exceeding the posted limit should pay at least $3000 plus have his license revoked for such mishaps, like this one. Only then will unintellegence be prevented. What do you think of that idea?

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 31, 2006, by Nathan Holth

I would take the driver's commercial license away for good if I had any say in the matter. It is bad enough for the historic bridge community to have to suffer ignorant DOTs and other road agnecies who demolish these sorts of bridges in the name of "progress", to have trucks collapsing them just to save a few minutes. There are so few King Bridge Company bridges left, and this was one of their finest designs.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 30, 2006, by anonymous

What in the world made this man think he could take a 30 something ton truck over a 4 ton weight limit bridge? That`s a mistake?? More like stupidity. And he doesn`t think he should have lost his job because of this. If you can`t read the road signs, don`t drive.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 30, 2006, by Chris

I hate to see this bridge gone also, but hae even more to see a person being persecuted because of a mistake he made by all you you perfect people...

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 28, 2006, by Lisa Goodman Counts (lisa [at] jh-goodman [dot] com)

The loss of this bridge is akin to the loss of an old friend. Knowing that negligence caused its demise makes it a tragedy.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 28, 2006, by Jessie Hutt (artistic1 [at] centurytel [dot] net)

I am very sorry to hear of the tragedy of the collapse of the Frenchmans Bluff Bridge. I have pictures of relatives taken on the bridge. My dad grew up in the park area and was very familiar with the bridge's surroundings. Dad's ancestors lived near the Frenchmans Bluff Bridge. That bridge has been part of our family history for several generations. So sad that the bridge was destroyed before the new bridge could be built. It is such a shame that so much historical value has been taken and cannot be replaced. It is our community's loss.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 26, 2006, by Anonymous

What an irresponsible loss to our county and to our memory. A prime example of our daily battle with ignorance and irresonsibility. The Frenchman's Bluff bridge has provided generations with wonderful memories and will leave an empty hole in the history of our county and in our hearts. It shall truly be missed.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 23, 2006, by S Burris (sburris [at] centurytel [dot] net)

The bridge was a wonderful memory for myself and my freinds from school It will be missed. Apparently the driver can't read a road sign. Another peice of our history destroyed.

Frenchmans Bluff Bridge
Posted July 22, 2006, by Richard K. Gannon,Jr. (rkgannon [at] centurytel [dot] net)

As of July 22,2006, this bridge no longer stands. Posted weight limits are in force for a reason.