This bridge is a very important bridge for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a cantilever truss bridge. Cantilever truss bridges are few in number nationwide, yet also are being demolished at a rapid rate. In addition, the St. Francisville Bridge is significant as a rare example of a small-scale cantilever truss bridge. While there are a number of other small cantilevers in the country, they are significantly fewer in number than larger cantilever bridges. The small scale cantilever bridges have a strikingly different appearance from larger cantilever truss bridges, most notably the towers do not rise above the surrounding trusses as extensively. Finally, the bridge is significant as a large-scale construction project funded by federal Depression relief programs.
The St. Francisville Bridge contains a traditionally composed cantilever truss with cantilevers following a Warren truss configuration. The bridge also contains a suspended Warren through truss span at the center of the bridge between cantilever arms. The south end of the bridge also includes six steel stringer approach spans.
The St. Francisville Bridge had carried a major regional highway as a toll bridge since its construction. In the early 2000s this bridge was bypassed by a new bridge and SR-27 was realigned onto this new bridge. In 2003 the historic St. Francisville Bridge was converted from a toll bridge to a free bridge to carry local traffic on a county road. The bridge has continued to exist with a high degree of historic integrity and it remains essentially unaltered from its original design.
Perhaps now that the bridge has been bypassed and the St. Francisville Bridge sees drastically less traffic, the bridge will be protected from both deterioration and demolition. This bridge is a beautiful structure, and its low traffic volume would make this bridge a great bridge to receive a high level of preservation priority. If this bridge's owners continue to maintain the bridge even though it is not a busy toll bridge anymore, than the bridge should last for a very, very long time into the future.
Information and Findings From Missouri and Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory
Superstructure: steel, 12-panel, rigid-connected
cantilever Warren through truss
Iowa's Discussion of Bridge
The St. Francisville Bridge carries Iowa Route 394 and the Missouri Supplemental Route B over the Des Moines River, between Lee County, Iowa and Clark County, Missouri. A three-span, rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June 1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge, and is now Iowa's only such crossing still in non-governmental hands.
Missouri's Discussion of Bridge
The St. Francisville Bridge carries Missouri
Supplemental Route B, and Iowa Route 394 over the Des Moines River,
between Clark County, Missouri, and Lee County, Iowa. A three-span,
rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the
imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle
Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of
Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an
otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the
Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was
provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the
Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June
1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge,
and it is now Missouri's only such crossing still in non-government
hands. As of early 1991, the fare for a one-way crossing was 25
Bridge Considered Historic By Surveys: Yes
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