Like most of Chicago/Cook County's historic railroad swing bridges, this bridge is very important, since it is an example of a structure type that was once common in the area, but was replaced with Chicago's trademark historic bascule bridges which stand today. Only some of the railroad bridges never made the change to a bascule.
This bridge is difficult to find a good place to photograph from. However a little dead-end road that runs along the south side of the canal appears to be public and passes near the bridge.
The McArthur Brothers and Winston and Company were the substructure contractors for this bridge. The Keystone Bridge Company, listed on the bridge plaque, appears to have been the fabricator for the bridge. However, a report by the canal's chief engineer, Isham Randolph, indicates that the superstructure contractor was Carnegie Steel Company. These were both companies associated with Andrew Carnegie, and this bridge was built around the time that the companies were in flux, eventually resulting in the creation of US Steel and the American Bridge Company, so this may explain the inconsistency. The total cost of the bridge was $76,404.19 and the total weight of iron and steel when the bridge was built was 1,724,636 pounds.
Emil Swensson was an engineer for the Keystone Bridge Company who worked his way up the company to become Chief Engineer around the time this bridge was built. Isham Randolph was Chief Engineer for the Sanitary District. Their portraits are shown below.
One of the reasons why bridges like this swing bridge and many other truss bridges from the 19th century and the very early 20th Century have pinned connections is because it avoided having to drive any rivets in the field. Until portable hand-held pneumatic hammers became common in the early 20th Century, most riveting was done in the shop using very large riveting devices that were very heavy and if they moved at all only moved within the shop. Due to their size, these devices were not economical to use in the field. Some example of shop riveters are shown below.
Sanitary District Plaque1898
SANITARY DISTRICT OF CHICAGO.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES.
JOSEPH C. BRADEN.
ZINA R. CARTER.
BERNARD A. ECKART.
ALEXANDER J. JONES.
JAMES P. MALLETTE.
Builder PlaqueKEYSTONE BRIDGE
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Chicago Loop Bridges - Chicago Loop Bridges is another website on the Internet that is a great companion to the HistoricBridges.org coverage of the 18 movable bridges within the Chicago Loop. This website includes additional information such as connections to popular culture, overview discussions and essays about Chicago's movable bridges, additional videos, and current news and events relating to the bridges.
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