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Little Niangua Swinging Bridge

Little Niangua Swinging Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 5, 2016

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
MO-J Over Little Niangua River
Rural: Camden County, Missouri: United States
Structure Type
Metal Plate Girder Stiffening Wire Cable Suspension, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1932 By Builder/Contractor: Clinton Bridge and Iron Works of Clinton, Iowa and Engineer/Design: Missouri State Highway Commission

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
225 Feet (68.6 Meters)
Structure Length
524 Feet (159.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
20 Feet (6.1 Meters)
3 Main Span(s) and 1 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge's future is at risk!

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

View Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet For This Historic Bridge

This bridge is one of only four surviving self-anchored suspension bridges in the United States, the other three being the "Three Sisters Bridges" over the Allegheny River in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. As one of only four such bridges, and the only one outside of Pittsburgh, the Little Niangua Swinging Bridge is a nationally significant historic bridge as one of the rarest bridge types in the country. Aside from replacement of rivets with bolts, particularly on one of the towers, the bridge retains excellent historic integrity and it conveys its unique design without alteration.

This two lane bridge, consisting of 10 foot lanes for each direction of travel is located on MO-J, a winding, narrow two-lane road that includes sections with rocky cliffs on one side of the road, and steep dropoffs into the river on the other side. The reported Average Daily Traffic is around 430. Immediately west of this bridge is a one-lane culvert/bridge. The road this bridge carries is located about six miles west from MO-5, a major highway designed for high speeds and semi trucks. MO-5 connects the exact same two roads as MO-J. The best use of tax dollars is to preserve this nationally significant historic bridge for continued vehicular use. Preservation of self-anchored suspension bridges is well-documented. As of 2017, one of the other three self-anchored suspension bridges in the country, the 9th Street Bridge located in busy downtown Pittsburgh, was being rehabbed. Despite the aforementioned facts, MoDOT wants to demolish and replace this bridge! While this bridge is in need of some repairs, overall the bridge is in decent condition, and the repair needs are not unusual and can be addressed through traditional rehabilitation methods such as those being used on the 9th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. This unbelievable position by MoDOT is made even worse by MoDOT's prior history. Not so long ago, America had a total of five self-anchored suspension bridges: three in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and two in Missouri. The other bridge in Missouri, the Paseo Bridge was demolished and replaced. So it appears MoDOT wants to be responsible for the loss of nearly half of the surviving self-anchored suspension bridges in America, this bridge type bring one of the rarest bridge types in the world! This, while Pennsylvania has managed to preserve all three of its bridges!


Photo Galleries and Videos: Little Niangua Swinging Bridge

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Maps and Links: Little Niangua Swinging Bridge

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