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St. Francisville Bridge

St. Francisville Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 3, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
MO-B and Belfast Road Over Des Moines River
Location
St. Francisville: Lee County, Iowa and Clark County, Missouri: United States
Structure Type
Metal Cantilever 12 Panel Rivet-Connected Warren Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1937 By Builder/Contractor: F. W. Whitehead and Engineer/Design: Sverdrup and Parcel of St. Louis, Missouri

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
228 Feet (69 Meters)
Structure Length
763 Feet (233 Meters)
Roadway Width
21.7 Feet (6.61 Meters)
Spans
3 Main Span(s) and 6 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
603980

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is a very important bridge for several reasons. First and foremost, it is a cantilever truss bridge. Cantilever truss bridges are few in number nationwide, yet also are being demolished at a rapid rate. In addition, the St. Francisville Bridge is significant as a rare example of a small-scale cantilever truss bridge. While there are a number of other small cantilevers in the country, they are significantly fewer in number than larger cantilever bridges. The small scale cantilever bridges have a strikingly different appearance from larger cantilever truss bridges, most notably the towers do not rise above the surrounding trusses as extensively. Finally, the bridge is significant as a large-scale construction project funded by federal Depression relief programs.

The St. Francisville Bridge contains a traditionally composed cantilever truss with cantilevers following a Warren truss configuration. The bridge also contains a suspended Warren through truss span at the center of the bridge between cantilever arms. The south end of the bridge also includes six steel stringer approach spans.

The St. Francisville Bridge had carried a major regional highway as a toll bridge since its construction. In the early 2000s this bridge was bypassed by a new bridge and SR-27 was realigned onto this new bridge. In 2003 the historic St. Francisville Bridge was converted from a toll bridge to a free bridge to carry local traffic on a county road. The bridge has continued to exist with a high degree of historic integrity and it remains essentially unaltered from its original design. In 2016 the bridge was closed to all traffic. While the truss remains in great condition, some of the piers have unusual, and extensive cracking (particularly the approach spans) and this is likely why the bridge was closed.

Information and Findings From Missouri and Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Bridge Features

Superstructure: steel, 12-panel, rigid-connected cantilever Warren through truss
Substructure: concrete abutments and spill-through piers
Floor/decking: concrete deck over steel stringers
Other features: upper chord and inclined end post: 2 channels with cover plate and lacing; lower chord: 2 channels with lacing; vertical: 4 angles, laced; diagonal: 2 channels, laced; lateral bracing: 1 angle; strut: 4 angles, laced and braced; floor beam: I-beams; guardrail: 2 channels;
Bridge plate: ST. FRANCISVILLE BRIDGE / FEDERAL EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION OF PUBLIC WORKS / PROJECT NO. 3395-R; builder's plate: ST. FRANCISVILLE BRIDGE / BUILT BY / WAYLAND SPECIAL ROAD DISTRICT NO. 1 / CLARK COUNTY, MISSOURI / BOARD OF SUPERVISORS / O.T. BROWN / CHAS. H. KRUEGER / WILFORD ORR / R.A. KEARNS / SVERDRUP AND PARCEL / CONSULTING ENGINEERS / F.W. WHITEHEAD CONTRACTOR / A.D. 1936

Iowa's Discussion of Bridge

The St. Francisville Bridge carries Iowa Route 394 and the Missouri Supplemental Route B over the Des Moines River, between Lee County, Iowa and Clark County, Missouri. A three-span, rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June 1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge, and is now Iowa's only such crossing still in non-governmental hands.

Missouri's Discussion of Bridge

The St. Francisville Bridge carries Missouri Supplemental Route B, and Iowa Route 394 over the Des Moines River, between Clark County, Missouri, and Lee County, Iowa. A three-span, rigid-connected Warren through truss cantilevered over the river, the imposing crossing is supported by a concrete substructure with subtle Art Moderne detailing. Designed by the esteemed engineering firm of Sverdrup and Parcel, the bridge was built by F.W. Whitehead, an otherwise obscure contractor. Construction efforts were organized by the Wayland Special Road District No. 1 in Clark County, and funding was provided in part through the Federal Emergency Administration of the Public Works, under Project No. 3395-R. Since its completion in June 1937, the St. Francisville Bridge has functioned as a toll bridge, and it is now Missouri's only such crossing still in non-government hands. As of early 1991, the fare for a one-way crossing was 25 cents.

Located at what must be Missouri's most remote interstate crossing, the St. Francisville Bridge is one of the state's few remaining toll bridges. In this it represents a nationwide trend toward toll bridge construction in the 1920s and 1930s. Toll bridges were built at major crossings throughout the country during this time by private companies, small corporations or local citizen groups, to fill the void created by state government inaction. Multiple-span structures such as the Hermann Bridge, the Gasconade Bridge, the Cape Girardeau Bridge and the Jerome Bridge were all built as toll structures and later opened to free traffic once their funding bonds had been retired. The St. Francisville Bridge, on the other hand, is the only such structure still in private hands and still operating as a toll structure. The bridge is technologically distinguished as a relatively uncommon example of cantilevered truss construction. The cantilevered through truss was a signature design of St. Louis-based Sverdrup and Parcel, which also engineered the similarly configured Hermann, Gasconade and Hannibal bridges. The cantilevered Warren truss configuration is uncommon for a bridge of the scale of St. Francisville, however, more often found on the major Missouri and Mississippi River bridges. A well-preserved interstate crossing, the St. Francisville Bridge is an important highway-related resource.

Bridge Considered Historic By Surveys: Yes

View Original PDF For Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet

Visit Iowa's Historic Bridge Webpage For This Bridge

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Photo Galleries and Videos: St. Francisville Bridge

 
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Maps and Links: St. Francisville Bridge

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