Tuesday, July 31, 2018

CB&Q+NC&StL+IC Bridge over Ohio River at Metropolis, IL

(Bridge HunterHistoric Bridges, Satellite)

Note the far (Kentucky side) span is longer. At the time, it was a record long 720' simple span. The other four spans are "just" 551'.
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sternwheel-part4 has a couple of photos of the bridge. That page also has seven facts including: "At 708 feet the bridge contains the longest pin-connected simple through truss span in the world."

Birds-Eye View
David Honan
David Honan

20171230 9402c, east elevation taken from the I-24 Bridge
(I still haven't figured out why my bridge pictures are typically so hazy.)
First of nine photos in C Hanchey's Illinois Flickr Album, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC)
I have noticed that when you take I-57 to Kentucky you pass under a BN overpass in the southern part of the state. This surprised me when I first saw it because the motto of the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy was "Everywhere West." Not South. Like the Milwaukee Road, CB&Q wanted their own access to coal in the Ohio River valley. In fact, James J. Hill, who aquired control the of CB&Q in 1901 could use the coal for his other railroads --- Great Northern and Northern Pacific.
So, in 1904 Burlington acquired a 122 mile line from Concord, IL to Centralia, IL. In 1905 the CB&Q began pushing towards Metropolis to link up with the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad (NC&StL) in Paducah. CB&Q reached Metropolis in 1910. The Paducah & Illinois Railroad (P&I) was formed of a partnership between CB&Q and NC&StL to build a mile long bridge over the Ohio and 15 miles of track to connect the 2 Railroads. [Part 1]
Burlington specified a double track bridge that would support Cooper E90 live loading. This showed significant foresight because E90 (90,000 pounds per axle (Army)) is a strong bridge by even today's standards. [Part 2, ConnDOT, WiscDOT]  The trusses and approach bents support two tracks, but the approach plate girder spans currently support just one track. As I have come to expect with long train bridges, trains travel slowly over this bridge.
A complicating factor at the Metropolis site was that bedrock was approximately 230 feet below low water level. This depth prohibited founding the piers on the bedrock, instead the piers are founded on a thick quartz sand layer at approximately 75 feet below low water level. Founding the piers on a substrate that could allow them to settle over time prohibited many bridge designs. CB&Q Chose to build a Simple Truss Bridge designed and built using Silicon Steel instead of the normal High Carbon Steel and specifying an even stronger nickel steel for certain members of the bridge allowing the bridge to be made lighter. [Part 2]
C Hanchey Illinois Flickr Album has nine photos starting with an overview.

See last paragraph of IC Railroad Scrapbook.

Lots of info in this posting's comments
The rivermen were allowed to specify the placement of the piers. They specified a 700' navigation span [part10] When they learned that the engineers designed a span over 700', the rivermen decided: "By having the main span 720 feet in width, a steamboat with a large tow will be able to pass under the bridge at any angle. With lights on the piers at night the span will be sufficient width to enable the pilots to judge his distance and pass under the bridge." [part12]

John Stigall commented on a posting
Bridge + sunset - what could be better?
If you have seen one of the 551' spans, you have seen them all.

It is hard to catch how much bigger the 720' span is from the Illinois side. This does catch the unique "stepped" design of the piers. The lower part is probably thicker to resist ice and flood waters.

Kenneth James White posted
Another giant spanning the Ohio River: The Metropolis Bridge at Cario Illinois.
[The bridge is at Metropolis, not Cario. The step in the piers make it easy to determine that the water level was higher when this photo was taken.]
Even the approach is rather massive.

Bob Kinstrey posted several photos with the comment: "Crossing the Ohio River a few miles south of I 24 at Paducah KY. Also some of the approach bridges on IL side. There is another RR bridge of the same design several miles north of I 24."

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Ken Bailey posted 13 photos with the comment:
I'm a comic book cartoonist as well as a railfan, and have enjoyed for years going to Metropolis (IL) for the big Superman Celebration in June. The river crossing there for the railroad line has one of the finest bridges I've ever seen -- seven spans, and an approach that must take a mile or two. Trains of several railroads share it.In addition, one of the people working the Metropolis show is a retired Illinois Central locomotive engineer/crewman, and it is always fun to hear his stories of the old days, as well!

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Jeff Yielding posted
From a few years ago, crossing from Paducah KY over to Metropolis IL. The bridge was opened in 1917!
Dennis DeBruler Nice catching it with some engines on it because that demonstrates the scale of those spans. The government agreed to the steamboat industry's demand that the navigation channel be over 700' wide. They thought that length would kill the possibility of a bridge being built. But their bluff was called. At the time of construction, the main span was a record setting simple span of 720'. The others are "just" 551'. The bridge is jointly owned by BNSF and CN.
Jeff Yielding commented on his post
And the speed limit is a whooping 5mph! Have watched many trains go over this man-made wonder. Here's is my photo that I submitted to wikipedia. Oh, and the total length including the approaches is 6,424 ft.


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