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Eads Bridge

Eads Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 15, 2016

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Key Facts

Location
St. Louis and East St. Louis: St. Louis City, Missouri and St. Clair County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal Braced Ribbed Deck Arch, Fixed and Approach Spans: Stone Semicircular Deck Arch, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1874 By Builder/Contractor: Kelly-Atkinson Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: James Eads

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
2015
Main Span Length
520 Feet (158.5 Meters)
Structure Length
4007 Feet (1221.33 Meters)
Roadway Width
46 Feet (14.02 Meters)
Spans
3 Main Span(s) and 84 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
12992

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet For This Historic Bridge

One of the most important historic bridges in the country, this bridge has national and even global historic significance on many different levels. It was the first large-scale bridge over the Mississippi River. It is one of the oldest large-scale bridges surviving in the United States. It was the first large bridge in the country to use substantial quantities of steel (as opposed to cast or wrought iron). Its arch spans were the longest in the world when completed. Even today, steel deck arch spans are rarely this long, especially with a comparatively shallow rise. The span length to arch rise ratio which produces these graceful, shallow-looking arches brings to mind the proportions of smaller multi-span concrete arch spans built in the 1920s. This in turn makes the bridge, from a distance, perhaps appear smaller than it is. Viewed up close, it is shocking to realize how large and massive this bridge truly is.

The substructure of the bridge is also historically significant being the first in the United States to use the pneumatic caisson for construction.

The bridge's arch rib chords are composed of riveted tubes, unique in the United States, but the used of riveted tubes for large structural chords can be found in other early bridges elsewhere such as the Forth Bridge in Scotland and the Royal Albert Bridge in England.

The bridge's upper deck carries vehicular traffic, while MetroLink light rail runs on a lower deck.

This bridge is one of a small number to be a listed National Historic Landmark (NHL).

This bridge has a long history and its approach system has been reconstructed in various ways, particularly at the Illinois end. As such, overall length of this bridge will vary depending on the source consulted. However the span lengths of the three arch spans are 502 feet, 520 feet (center span), and 502 feet.

Above: James Buchanan Eads, engineer of the bridge.

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction using cantilever method. Until the arches were connected, the large temporary structure seen here held the partially erected arches in place.

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction using cantilever method. Until the arches were connected, the large temporary structure seen here held the partially erected arches in place.

Above: Historical photo showing bridge construction after the arches were connected and capable of bearing loads.

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Photo Galleries and Videos: Eads Bridge

 
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