Wednesday, March 7, 2018

1874 Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis

(Bridge HunterHistoric BridgesJohn Weeks III, John MarvigHAER, Neil Gale's blog3D Satellite)
HAER MO,96-SALU,77--1
1. GENERAL VIEW OF BRIDGE - Eads Bridge, Spanning Mississippi River at Washington Street, Saint Louis, St. Louis (Independent City), MO

I noticed that Historic Bridges rated both the National and Local Historical Significance as 10. It looks like the river was rather high when the HAER photographer visited the bridge.

C Hanchey Flickr, License: Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) 

Historic Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri. The bridge is a steel deck arch design with a roadway deck on top and railroad tracks below. When completed in 1874, the Eads Bridge was the longest arch bridge in the world. The bridge was built by the Illinois and St. Louis Bridge Company and the Keystone Bridge Company.


Eads Bridge was named a National Historic Landmark in 1964, and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966 (NRHP No. 66000946). It was also designated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 1971.


Historic American Engineering Record (HAER Survey No. MO-12)

Dave Hall posted

Deron K. Edwards shared
Vintage St. Louis & Route 66
September 6, 1833 - Thirteen-year-old James Buchanan Eads and his family arrived in St. Louis on a steamboat. Fire swept the boat as it approached the landing, and eight people were killed. Eads, his mother and two sisters lost everything but the clothes on their backs. Eads sold apples and newspapers on the streets to help his family make ends meet.

Missouri History Museum posted
Compare the actual Eads Bridge to early drawings of it, and you may notice something missing. Many depictions of the Eads Bridge included eight larger-than-life classical statues on top of the bridge’s piers, but they were never installed. Some sources claim the finished statues ended up on the roof of the Equitable Building, which stood at Sixth and Locust Streets from 1875 until 1955.
Deron Keith Edwards shared

Forgotten Railways, Roads, and Places posted
The Eads Bridge in St Louis, MO. Top photo taken in September 2012 under normal water levels, the bottom in 1993 at the height of the Mississippi River flooding during that year. Top photo: Wikipedia Commons, bottom photo: Larry Stiles #eadsbridge #bridge #stlouis #mississippiriver #flooding #history

Deron Keith Edwards shared
In material terms, building the Eads Bridge required 2,390 tons of steel, 3,156 tons of wrought iron, 806 tons of timber, and 218,000 tons of limestone block. The final cost was $12 million—equivalent to well over $250 million today.
📷: #GreatRiverCity by Andrew Wanko
[The water in the background is flooding of East St. Louis. That area has since been filled to keep it from flooding.]

William A. Shaffer posted
"The Eads Bridge at St. Louis, MO"
(Photo by Floyd Richards - Collection of William A. Shaffer)
History Images posted
Mississippi River frozen solid, February 1905. Source- Missouri History Museum, St. Louis.
Dustin Munger No one points out that in the pic the ice is not frozen solid... I'm from Minnesota where you freeze your 🥜🥜off 3months a year. That is warmer weather, she is standing in front of a spring ice break up, on the river. The ice might have pushed up on shore. Makes for a good pic.
Julia Frohnapple Adcock Dustin Munger good point. That's how the Rock and Mississippi Rivers get here in the Quad Cities. (Davenport, Moline etc)
[This removes my confusion about a river freezing solid. It didn't. There are some comments about the hat and women's fashion. And about the streetcars on the bridge.]

Deron K. Edwards shared
Deron K. Edwards shared
[This time I noticed the line of people across the river in the background.]

STL Brick House posted
During the early 1870s, the Eads Bridge was constructed over the Mississippi River, and the city established several large parks, including Forest Park. 
Due to local political and economic disputes, the city separated from St. Louis County in 1876 and became an independent city. 
Gary Moehring commented on the above post

William Shaffer posted
St. Louis Riverfront .(Circa 1970s)
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)
Barry Allan Buttz: I see the Admiral…
Dennis DeBruler shared

Bill Edrington posted five photos to a Big Four Railroad Group with the comment:
Eads Bridge was the first bridge to span the Mississippi River at St. Louis, in 1874. I&StL and Big Four passenger trains used it; however in 1889 the Merchants Bridge was built farther north in an attempt to break the monopoly of the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis. (TRRA eventually got control of it too.) Most Big Four/NYC through trains used Merchants Bridge for many years, bypassing East St. Louis, but some local trains continued to use Eads Bridge. In these shots taken this morning you can see the Casino Queen across the river in East St. Louis, which stands on the location of the old Big Four freight house. The railroad's Lower Yard was on the riverfront there. Also, a westbound MetroLink light-rail train can be seen crossing Eads Bridge. In the last two shots a BNSF coal train heads south on the TRRA elevated line, which connected Merchants Bridge to Union Station, running beneath the west approach to Eads Bridge. If you had ridden the Knickerbocker, Southwestern Limited or Missourian to or from St. Louis, you would have gone this way.
Art Wallis Two additional pieces of information to add to Bill's excellent post. The Bridge, and its various subsidiary enterprises like the Wiggins Ferry, came under the control of Jay Gould. From that point, the charges levied against participating railroads became onerous, and remained that way, even after TRRA was owned by a consortium of connecting railroads.

Also, a major reason Eads fell out of favor with using railroads was the connecting tunnel which carried the bridge line under parts of downtown St. Louis on its way to Union Station. Built, I believe, at roughly the same time as the bridge, it was tightly constricting and curved, which eventually caused clearance difficulties. You can see these tunnels, sort of, when you ride the rapid transit line to and from the riverfront or Illinois, because they were reused for this purpose.

There are more comments in the posting that contain photos of the MetroLink that now uses the lower (rail) deck.





Eads & MLK bridges from Gateway Arch
Gene Smania, 6-89
License: Released into public domain
I remember reading a book on Eads and this bridge in the 1970s. There is so much that could be said that I have been reluctant to tackle this topic. But Bill's photos have motivated me to try.

Fortunately, HAER, page 3, has done some of the writing:
This National Historic Landmark is significant as the first bridge and one of the first structures of any kind to make extensive use of steel. The Eads Bridge was one of the first bridges in the United States employing pneumatic caissons, among the deepest submarine construction work ever, employing the largest caissons then accomplished anywhere. It was the first bridge to be built entirely using cantilever construction methods, avoiding the need for falsework; and it was the first bridge to use hollow tubular chord members. Eads Bridge was also the first bridge designed so that any part could be easily removed for repair or replacement. With three spans over 500 feet long, some 200 feet longer than any built previously, its construction was a significant engineering feat. The National Historic Landmark boundary extends between the two roadway touchdown points.
Eads developed a fortune and an appreciation for the power of the Mississippi River by salvaging sunken steamboats. During the Civil War, he signed a contract with the government for seven ironclad gunboats, organized a work force of 4000 workers, and launched all seven within 100 days. "Eads' first gunboat, the St. Louis, was the first ironclad boat in America and the first such boat to engage in a naval battle anywhere, on February 6, 1862 at Fort Henry. Eads invented a steam-actuated rotating gun turret for his ironclad gunboats, which played a significant role in multiple Civil War battles." [HAER]

After the Civil War, he turned his attention to the problem of building the first bridge over the Mississippi river that was downstream of the confluence with the Missouri River. In 1866, Congress issued a charter to the St. Louis and Illinois Bridge Co. to build a bridge at St. Louis. But the opposition added restrictions to the charter with the intent of making the bridge impossible to build. The opposition to this bridge not only included the usual bridge opponents such as steamboat and ferry companies, it included investors in railroads that used Chicago as a gateway. In addition to the usual restrictions of a wide (>500') and high navigation channel, they added that it could not be a suspension bridge and that it could not use falsework (i.e. obstruct shipping during construction). (All previous proposals to span the river at St. Louis used the suspension bridge design.)

Eads knew that iron was not strong enough to support an arch over 500'. But that steel would be. Fortuitously, the Kelly/Bessemer process made steel an economically feasible construction material in the late 1860s. For example, the first steel rails were rolled in 1885. So a steel arch design is how Eads worked around the no-suspension-bridge restriction.

Since the trusses of an arch must be supported before they are joined, Eads pioneered the cantilever technique of building both arches from a pier at the same rate and tieing them together so that the weight of each truss would hold up the other truss. That is how he got around the no-falsework restriction.
Historical Photo from Historic Bridges
A key requirement of Eads' design was that the piers would go down to bedrock. The deep water and sands of the riverbed required some piers to be almost 100' below the water surface to reach bedrock. This was probably a more severe restriction than any invented by the writers of the charter. I remember from reading that book so many years ago that he was a pioneer of using the pneumatic caisson in America because he effectively "invented" the bends. (He learned of the pneumatic caisson technique from a tour of engineering projects in Europe.) The term "bend" is derived from the workers bending over from agonizing pain after they came back to the surface after working in the pressurized air compartment at the bottom of the caisson. "Of the 352 men in the east pier air chamber, 80 would be affected, 12 would die, and two would become paralyzed." [John Marvig]  I also remember from reading a book about the Brooklyn Bridge many years ago that Roebling's project also had problems with the bends. I believe they were the ones that figured out that the workers need to enter a decompression chamber after their work shift and gradually return to atmospheric pressure. (The air pressure at the bottom of the caisson is high enough to offset the weight of the water column they are working under. The deeper they dig, the higher the pressure of the air that they are breathing.)

"Per Eads standards, all parts were to be tested and be of the highest grade of metal. This was quite unusual, and set a new precedent in bridge construction." [John Marvig] Since this bridge was the first major application of structural steel, quantities of quality steel were needed at an unprecedented scale. I learned from a PBS show about Andrew Carnegie that he built a steel plant to supply the needed steel. In fact, this is how he got his start in the steel business.

On the day when the final piece was to be installed in the first (west) arch, the temperature was 100 degrees. Because of the expansion of the steel by the hot day, the space between the two trusses was not big enough for the final piece! John Marvig says "it was cut and a plug inserted." I remember from the book that Eads used hoses to pour water over all of the arch members to cool them down so that they contracted enough to make room for the final piece.

The bridge opened to pedestrians on 5-24-1874 and 15,000 people walked across it. The upper-deck road opened on 6-3-1874, and six days later a train crossed using the lower deck. A grand opening spectacle witnessed by nearly 500,000 people was held July 4, 1874 after a fully loaded test train had crossed the bridge a few days earlier. Today the lower deck carries the light-rail MetroLink and the upper deck was completely refurbished by 2003 to be a 4-lane highway. (Street View)

William A. Shaffer posted
From the Camera of Floyd Richards: (Circa 1930s)
Eads Bridge at St. Louis, MO
(Photo by Floyd Richards - Collection of William A. Shaffer)

1880 Photographer unknown, Library of Congress, WTTW video and article

Bob Freitag shared
Eads Bridge from the Illinois side, completed. July 1874. Photograph by Robert Benecke, ca. 1874. Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections. By 1875, St. Louis was a major railroad hub, connected in every direction through a spider web of tracks. The recently finished Eads Bridge was the longest arch bridge in the world and the first major crossing of the Mississippi River in the country.
Peter MetrinkoPeter and 705 others joined RAILROAD BRIDGES, TRESTLES, TUNNELS AND CUTS within the last two weeks. Give them a warm welcome into your community! Eads and Washington Roebling (Brooklyn Bridge) quarreled over caisson designs. There's a short discussion here of the two bridges, and a long discussion of the disagreement, which led to a lawsuit by Eads for patent infringement. However, there is a middle section of the article that discusses how caissons work which I found interesting. I have taken pictures of both bridges, but nothing worth showing.,%20the...
Thomas Finger It's still there - roadway on the top and the MetroLink light rail line using the rail deck below (along with the tunnel under downtown). Just a few years ago the metal work was completely refurbished, repairs and replacements made as needed and then repainted in shiny black paint. The bridge looks wonderful today.
John Fulmer posted  (source)
Elephant ...stress/weight testing the strength of newly completed Eads Bridge.
Might have been a publicity stunt. LOL.
The elephant thing was an old wives tale that an elephant wouldn’t cross an unstable bridge - that they have some kind of sixth sense about shaky bridges.
Al Smith It was the first steel bridge, previous bridges (much smaller) having been made of much weaker iron, so the populace had misgivings about its strength. The elephant myth was deliberately circulated and created curiosity. Will the elephant cross or not? It crossed, greatly increasing people’s trust in the strength of the bridge. It was a Barnum and Bailey world.
Matthew Minton the bridge started construction in 1867 and opened in 1874.
Ronald Elliott Capt. J.B. Eads was as much a self-taught genius in his fields as was Ho, Abraham Lincoln. I ONLY regret the fact that I grew up fully aware of the bridge, while utterly clueless about the massive service he did for the Federal Union by his invention and partial design and total construction of the seven (7) "City Class" riverine ironclad gunboats; three of them at Carondelet MO, and four down at Mound Bayou, IL. Flag Offficer David G. Farragut and Brig. Gen U.S. Grant scored early and vital victories with them, many months before U.S.S. Monitor and C.S.S. Virginia battled at Hampton Roads. Capt. Eads was a genius and a patriot who did MUCH to help the Union win the war of Rebellion.

Deron K. Edwards shared
Mike Seelig Isn't that the old Admiral on the left?Myron Sievers Mike Seelig yep, before the shiny aluminum skin got old and buckled from age.Thomas Finger The large boat in the background was the steamboat Admiral, built on the railroad carferry "Albatross". It is now scrapped. The smaller "swaybacked" boat in the center is the Goldenrod Showboat - the last remaining showboat on the river. Tragically it has also been scrapped. Fortunately, the Delta Queen has been given freedom once again by Congress and will hopefully be sailing the rivers again soon. A sight that will never be repeated.Alan Ardanowski I estimate the date of the pic at 1957 based on the cars.

David Cantrell posted
East St. Louis 1907
Joan Hirlinger Treis shared
1896 Tornado.
Kerry Touchette My great great grandmother Josephine Wolfer was walking up the stairs when the tornado pulled the 3 story exterior wall off the house and almost sucked her into the tornado.Many of the surrounding houses were reduced to piles of rubble.
[It looks like the top deck got blown off, but the main arches of the approach survived. They have already used wood to build a temporary upper deck. The comments are inconsistent about the view: MO looking South or IL looking North. Both sides had five arches in the approach back then. Below are street views of each side, but I still can't decide the photo's view. St. Louis got hit worse, but East St. Louis was also hit.]

Street View, MO side looking South
Street View, IL side looking North
This is the comment that argues the IL side.
J Charles Binder commented on Joan's share
This is Eads under DESTRUCTION. As a matter of fact, I would suggest the description be changed to "The 1896 Tornado in EAST St. Louis, Illinois." because the post's photo is of the Illinois side of the river with the bridge under repair.

Bob Gill commented on Joan's share
This was actually one of the deadliest and most destructive tornadoes in U.S. history. 255 people died, and over a thousand were injured. More than 5000 people were homeless and lost all of their possessions.

It also affected East St. Louis, as well and much of the downtown area and the train depots on Bloody Island were completely destroyed.

The 1896 tornado season has the distinction of being one of the deadliest in United States history. There were at least 40 killer tornadoes spanning from April 11 to November 26; including this one, the only one to kill more than 100 people in two separate cities
Mary Beth Paynter Engler commented on Joan's share
Mary Beth Paynter Engler commented on Joan's share
Deron K. Edwards shared
More construction of the Eads Bridge
Title: The St. Louis Bridge: Erection of west arch, showing cables to joints 6, 9, and 12
Date Created/Published: 1881.
Medium: 1 print.

Deron K. Edwards shared
Eads Bridge in St. Louis, August 1873

Old American Photos posted
Construction of the Eads Bridge that connects St. Louis, Missouri with East St. Louis, Illinois. c. 1873. The Eads Bridge is the oldest major surviving bridge on the Mississippi River.
Greg Beat
Eads Bridge was built by the Illinois and St. Louis Bridge Company, with the Keystone Bridge Company, founded in 1865 by Andrew Carnegie, serving as subcontractor for steel superstructure erection.
Eads Bridge underwent a major refurbishment in 2012 to extend its operational life to 2091. Today, it carries the MetroLink light rail system.
Brian Mueller: The piers on the Missouri side go 100ft below the surface of the water. A major undertaking in its day!
Alan Van Dyke: They don't make them like they used to. The Brooklyn Bridge was built in 1875 and hasn't gone anywhere.
[And both builders had to learn that decompression was the answer to the Caisson disease or the bends.]

Deron Keith Edwards shared a Missouri History Museum photo
Constructed between 1867 and 1874, the Eads Bridge became the first crossing of the Mississippi River at St. Louis. The bridge bound across the Mississippi on just two piers, with three arches stretching more than 500 feet between them. Heralded by poets and architects as a symbol of the city—long before the Apotheosis of St. Louis statue or the Gateway Arch—the Eads Bridge was St. Louis’s most iconic structure.
Bridges Now and Then posted
St. Louis' Eads Bridge, seen during construction, c. 1873. (Missouri History Museum)

Lori Jeffress posted
Deron K. Edwards shared
Bridges Now and Then posted a different exposure
The Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis is seen during construction, early 1870s. The bridge opened in 1874. (Public Domain)
Dave Frieder: One of the FIRST bridges in the USA to use a Pneumatic Caisson for the setting of the Towers.
Gary Schmidt: Dave Frieder Roebling, the builder of the Brooklyn Bridge conferred with Eads concerning caissons.
Rusty Ball shared
Roger Gaston: Wish it had been built over a body of water that wasn’t navigable!! JS
Albert Casper: Gotta hit it just right or say goodbye to your barges covertops...

Deron K. Edwards commented on his share

St. Louis Paranormal Research Society posted
Scott Bevil 2 lanes each direction and a sidewalk on top and Metrolink on the lower level.

Deron K. Edwards shared
Jim Bullock I believe this was first bridge made of steel, not iron?
Thomas Finger Yes, but only portions of the bridge were steel, specifically the tubes used in the arches - the primary load carrying parts (and possibly other parts also). Much of the bracing and metalwork supporting the deck above the arches was wrought iron. Recently the bridge underwent a major overhaul with some of the metalwork being replaced.
At some of these photos are new to these notes.
Vintage St. Louis & Route 66 posted five photos wtih the comment: "Happy Birthday to the Eads Bridge. [July 4, 2020]"
Bob Rolf If I remember correctly, this was constructed around the time of the Brooklyn Bridge. Lots of workers suffered from the bends while digging inside the caissons under pressure to keep the river out.
Mark T Pillow Bob Rolf in fact Eads led the way in research to fix it. They hired a dr to have an office on a barge moored to the casson and he discovered the nitrogen bubbles and many of his exact recommendations still used today.
Bob Suess Alloy steel from Carneige, opened in 1876. Architects and construction engineers from around the world still come to STL to study the structure.

Deron K. Edwards shared
Kevin Nodine How old is the Eads Bridge?
Deron K. Edwards 146 years





Vintage St. Louis & Route 66 posted four photos with the comment: "Happy Birthday Eads Bridge! Trivia: Can you name the highways that crossed the Eads?"
Vintage St. Louis & Route 66 Trick Question: It never carried any highway. The bridge was owned by the Terminal Railway Association.

Deron Keith Edwards shared



STL From Above posted
Happy 314 Day! How about a photo of the first iconic St. Louis structure looming over the current iconic structure? Of course I'm talking about the Eads Bridge and Gateway Arch. I've always wanted to get a little up close and personal with the Eads Bridge, which was opened in 1874 and was the first all steel bridge in the world. The bridge carried both cars and trains. It's been in operation since it's opening, except between 1991 and 2003 when the highway deck was closed. Thankfully it has been restored and now handles cars and pedestrian traffic. The Eads Bridge was the iconic image of St.
Louis until the Gateway Arch was completed in 1965.
Tag #STL_from_above or DM for suggestions. Follow for more!
John Christensen It also carries the Metrolink.
[Gallery  I believe just the arch tresses were made of steel. Iron was used for the rest. In 1874 it would have been buggies and wagons instead of cars. It is hard to imagine how old this bridge is.]
Deron K. Edwards shared
STL From Above posted two photos with the comment:
The Eads Bridge is quite the architectural masterpiece. It's hard to see the black wrought iron and steel structure from the bank of the Mississippi, but the sunrise reflecting off its surface highlights the intricate design that has allowed the bridge to remain strong for almost 150 years!!
**UPDATE** I've had a few requests for print orders. I have this photo and my "314 Day" photo added to my website. In these uncertain and crazy times, I truly appreciate your support!! #STL_from_above or DM for suggestions. Follow for more!
Daniel Niewöhner The reddish or pink granite has been quarried in this area since 1869, and two abandoned granite quarries are within the park. These and others nearby have provided red architectural granite for buildings in states from Massachusetts to California, but most particularly in St. Louis, including stone for St. Louis City Hall and the piers of the Eads Bridge.
Daniel Niewöhner


Deron K. Edwards shared
Current [6/14/2019] flooding around Eads Bridge in St. Louis.
John Diehl amazing, the bridge piers are completely submerged. Really high water.
[See flood for river level information.]

Christopher Taber posted
The underside of the Eads Bridge arching 525 feet to the next pier over the Mississippi River under a starry sky at St. Louis on November 17th, 2020.
With the river levels being so low, the first pier of the west bank of the bridge is above the shoreline allowing access to a rare view of this awe inspiring historical structure.
Deron Keith Edwards shared

I checked out a satellite image to see a normal water level around the west pier. Then it struck me, is this normal. So near the bottom of these notes I extracted some Global Earth images to show some of the fluctuation of the river.
3D Satellite

Spencer Whitman posted
A lite engine set cruises along beneath Eads Bridge in St. Louis. I unfortunately wasn't able to get a locomotive facing cab out but at least I managed catch something after my 3 hour wait. #urban

William A. Shaffer posted
The American Freedom Train is parked on display at the St. Louis Riverfront during April, 1976
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)
William A. Shaffer posted
The American Freedom Train on display at the Riverfront in St. Louis, MO. (April, 1976). I hiked up this steep embankment with my Mamiya RB-67 and Marconi Tilt-All Professional Tripod to get this shot. It was a tough climb but glad I made the effort.
(Photo by William A. Shaffer)
[Some comments confirm that this area was under water during the 1993 flood.]

A sampling of Google Earth images to see how the river level varies. It goes in and out more frequently than this, but this gives me a feel for the river levels. Google Earth did not catch the 2019 flood.
Google Earth, Nov 2006

Google Earth, Oct 2010
I included the trees in the extract below so that you can see what the three "blobs" at the top are.

Google Earth, Aug 2012

Google Earth, Aug 2017

Google Earth, Oct 2018

Google Earth, Aug 2020

Digital Research Library

A dramatic photo of the underside

Video from a train. You can see the lower cords of the arches go by.

9:46 video on the history of the bridge (I'll be glad when the fad of having some silly music behind a narration disappears.)

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