2021: John Marvig provides the following additional information: As of 2018, the swing span had been altered (but not replaced, thankfully!). His research supported the idea that the swing span dates to 1892. As such, HistoricBridges.org is now listing the main construction date as 1892 although note the approach spans were not built until 1899. John further notes that Keystone Bridge Company constructed the main span and American Bridge Works constructed the approach spans.
Historic railroad bridges on the Mississippi River are at risk. Most are swing bridges. They face a threat from the coast guard that wants to eliminate their center pier from the river by replacing with other movable types like vertical lift bridges. Also, because of the limited number of crossings, those that do exist usually carry a lot of trains are are at risk for alteration or replacement from railroads wanting to run taller and faster trains over them. This bridge is an excellent example of the risk the bridges face. The beautiful Camelback approach spans that lead up to this bridge's swing span have been severely altered. All pin connections have been turned into bolted connections by the addition of gusset plates. This messy alteration drastically changed the appearance of the bridge. However, given that some of these bridges have been totally demolished and replaced, one probably shouldn't complain too much. However, the swing span may be at risk for replacement. It was not altered like the approach spans even though its construction is similar. This may suggest they are preparing for a separate project to demolish and replace the swing span completed. As the most historically significant component of the bridge this would be a devastating loss.
The previous bridge here dated to 1869. Some sources say that regarding the bridge seen today was erected piecemeal (replacing the previous bridge); claims are that the swing span was erected in 1892 but the approach spans were not erected until 1899. Other sources say the whole bridge was built in 1899.
HistoricBridges.org currently only has a small selection of overview photos for this bridge.
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