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Merchants Bridge

Merchants Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: November 15, 2016

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Key Facts

St. Louis and Venice: St. Louis City, Missouri and Madison County, Illinois: United States
Structure Type
Metal 18 Panel Pin-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Deck Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1890 By Builder/Contractor: Union Bridge Company of Athens, Pennsylvania and Engineer/Design: George Shattuck Morison

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
518 Feet (157.7 Meters)
Structure Length
4,340 Feet (1322.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge's future is at risk!

HAER Drawings, PDF

This bridge was designed by George Morison. Morison designed some of the first large-scale metal truss bridges in the country and many of the 19th century railroad bridges over the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers were associated with Morison. Many of his simple-span truss bridges are long spans even by today's standards, and some were record-breaking (or close to record-breaking) when first completed. For his importance in providing essential crossings over some of the nation's largest rivers, for pioneering use of metal in large-scale American bridge construction, and for designing complex, extremely long-span trusses, Morison is an important figure in engineering history, and his surviving bridges should be considered nationally significant. Many of his bridges were replaced in the early 20th Century due to increasing railroad requirements, leaving very few of his bridges remaining today. The Merchants Bridge varies from his typical use of the Whipple truss, in favor of a Pennsylvania truss. It is the only such example by Morison surviving as of 2017. Sadly none of this matters to the railroad that uses the bridge who has condemned this bridge and will be demolishing and replacing it. With so few surviving examples of such an important engineer remaining, and also considering this is one of the only 19th Century trusses in America with a span over 500 feet, the loss in terms of our nation's transportation heritage caused by demolition of this bridge is incalculable.

Above: Historical photo of bridge.


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