7 votes

Frisco Bridge


All three

This color photo provided by the Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department shows all three bridges; the Frisco Bridge is the middle one

BH Photo #108908

Street Views 


When built this was the most southerly bridge over the Mississippi River.


Cantilevered through truss railroad bridge over the Mississippi River at Memphis
Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee, and Crittenden County, Arkansas
Open to railroad traffic
Completed May 12, 1892, under the direction of engineer George S. Morison; west approach replaced in 2018
- A & P Roberts Co. of Pencoyd, Pennsylvania (Superstructure Main Contractor)
- Alfred Noble (Resident Engineer)
- Baird Brothers of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Superstructure Erector)
- Cofrode & Saylor of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Viaduct Subcontractor)
- E.H. Mayne (Assistant Engineer)
- Elmira Bridge Works of Elmira, New York (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts (Chief Engineer)
- J.M. Heiskell (Assistant Engineer)
- Kansas City and Memphis Railway and Bridge Co.
- Keystone Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- Lassig Bridge & Iron Works of Chicago, Illinois (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- Lewis M. Loss of Rochester, New York (Substructure)
- M.A. Waldo (Assistant Engineer)
- Molitor, D.A. (Assistant Engineer)
- New Jersey Steel & Iron Co. of Trenton, New Jersey (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- Pennsylvania Steel Co. of Steelton, Pennsylvania (Viaduct Main Contractor)
- Pittsburg Steel Casting Co. (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- Pittsburgh Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Superstructure Main Contractor)
- Scaife Foundry & Machine Co. (Union Bridge Co. Superstructure Subcontractor)
- Union Bridge Co. of Buffalo, New York & Athens, Pennsylvania (Superstructure Main Contractor)
- Walter E. Angier (Assistant Engineer)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (SLSF; Frisco)
Cantilevered Baltimore through truss. This bridge was built entirely of the newly developed open hearth steel.
Length of largest span: 790.5 ft.
Total length: 4,887.0 ft. (0.9 mi.)
Deck width: 30.0 ft.
Also called
Frisco Mississippi River Bridge
Memphis Bridge
BNSF Bridge 482.1
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.12888, -90.07638   (decimal degrees)
35°07'44" N, 90°04'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/766405/3891248 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Northwest Memphis
Inventory number
BH 32697 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 10, 2022: New photo from Bambi Sharkoman
  • July 20, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • August 14, 2018: Updated by Luke: Edted builders section to show who did what
  • August 14, 2018: Updated by Rusty Weisman: fixed typos in builders names - Bair Brothers erected the superstructure under contract of May 10,1890 and Lewis M. Loss was the contractor for the masonry piers under contract of April 3, 1889
  • September 12, 2016: New photos from Dave King
  • August 31, 2016: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 31, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Riveted"
  • March 1, 2014: New photo from Jack Schmidt
  • March 8, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Corrected builder. Pittsburgh Bridge Co. was missing the "h"
  • April 29, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "St. Louis San Francisco Railway"
  • October 2, 2010: Updated by Ed Hollowell: Added to the design and discription.
  • November 23, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • September 25, 2008: New photos from James Baughn
  • February 13, 2005: Posted new photos

Related Bridges 



Frisco Bridge
Posted November 26, 2019, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Here is what the bridge looks like now after the complete demolition/replacement of the approach https://www.aisc.org/nsba/prize-bridge-awards/prize-bridge-w...

Frisco Bridge
Posted November 17, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


Thanks for the background, so I gather the new approach will have a lesser grade... and also that the main spans are not to be replaced as part of this project?

Frisco Bridge
Posted November 7, 2016, by Rich

BNSF did a major rebuild of the main spans of this bridge in the mid-2000s due to deterioration. The Arkansas approach to the channel crossing is the steepest grade on the main line between Memphis and Thayer, Mo. There were very prohibitive operating rules that governed speed and how much power the engineer could use along certain points of the bridge--in fact it was possible to stall out on the approach which required being pushed over. Because of the low speed limit, single track and being near Tennessee Yard, it became a major bottleneck for the railroad between Kansas City and Birmingham.

Frisco Bridge
Posted November 6, 2016, by Nathan Holth (Webmaster [at] HistoricBridges [dot] org)

This is one of the most significant historic bridges in the country due to age, design, size, and engineer. Some or all spans are currently being demolished and replaced... currently it's just the western approach spans. The fate of the main spans is unknown. Even loss of the approach spans is an atrocity against history given the bridge's significance. But of coursE big railroad corporations couldn't care less about history. This bridge belongs in a museum if it could fit, it deserves better than to be ruined by money hungry railroad corporations

Frisco Bridge
Posted January 27, 2015, by CConkle (msplinter1964 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thank you. When I get my scanner hooked up finally I will have a better copy. I inherited this photo and many others due to the family of the men who took these are virtually extinct. I inherited them from a historical society, and they knew I was a "Bridgehound"

Frisco Bridge
Posted January 1, 2015, by Fmiser (fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com)

Cool photo!

It's a bit blurry, but I think I see vehicles on the inclined roadway along the left. I was standing in the same spot as this photo was taken about a year ago. I got some photos, but not quite the same angle as yours. There were no vehicles in my photo - no deck on the steel bridge either.

Frisco Bridge
Posted December 29, 2014, by CConkle (msplinter1964 [at] gmail [dot] com)

To correct, Harahan Bridge. Cats love to walk on you.

Frisco Bridge
Posted December 29, 2014, by CConkle (msplinter1964 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This is an attempt to restore a photo of Frisco and Hanrahan, taken prior to 1946-1950. Its not done yet, but I wanted to share. I inherited a pack of pictures, mostly UCEB RR bridges, but this and another stood out.

Frisco Bridge
Posted June 10, 2011, by Gordon (grunt [at] urgentmail [dot] com)

I am amazed that this bridge has held up so well with a real lack of maintainance from the railroad.In my 57 years, I do not recall it ever being painted. G

Frisco Bridge
Posted June 14, 2010, by George Harris (ghharris44 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I have seen the deck width quoted as being 30 feet in sseveral places. I believe this to be incorrect. I think the 30 feet may be the truss centers, but that seems a little small for a 790 ft span. I wrote a paper on this brige while in college. At the time I went to the bridge and measured the width between railings. (This was 1967. Things were different then.) If my memory is at all correct, the distance between railings, which to me defines the deck width, was 23 feet.

The deck was originally timbered even with the top of rail to allow wagon traffic between trains. This was presumably removed after the adjacent Harahan Bridge was opened.

Frisco Bridge
Posted August 22, 2007, by Gene McCluney (mccluney [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Regarding climbing the bridge. Operating Railroad bridges have always been private property, not built with public funds, and have always had "No Trespassing" signs. If you climb onto the bridge you are trespassing. Probably it is just the heightened security post 9/11 that results in you being arrested, though.

However you should be aware that you ARE trespassing on private railroad land and property.

Frisco Bridge
Posted September 16, 2006, by Liz Eubanks (eaeubanks [at] aol [dot] com)

My great-great grandfather, S. Robison supposedly was one of the engineers for this bridge and died after the celebration of the finishing of it - falling from the bridge and dying later at home from the injuries. I am seaching for more information about his death and who he worked for. email me at eaeubanks@aol.com if you have any info.

Frisco Bridge - Climbing the West Support Tower
Posted September 14, 2005, by Sam Teel (steel [at] midsouth [dot] rr [dot] com)

Before 9-11, we could climb the support collum on the West side. After that, we get arrested for tresspassing. Does anyone know how we might get permission to climb again?


Sam Teel 901-921-4334