The oldest Pratt truss in the state, this is also one of the most unique and ornate surviving examples of a rare Keystone column truss bridge. Among surviving Keystone column truss bridges, this bridge's patented Keystone columns (used on vertical members and end posts) feature unusual decorative fastener rods with cast iron clamps at each end. These clamps have decorative details, looking much like flowers head-on, and from the side they look like little fingers gripping the sections of the columns... which is essentially what they are in fact doing.
The bridge was originally built over the River Des Peres at Lemay Ferry in St. Louis, and was relocated to Kimmswick in 1930, and bypassed by a new bridge in 1985. Seeking to prevent the demolition of this bridge and retain it for use by non-motorized traffic, the Kimmswick Historical Society took ownership of this bridge in 1985 when it was replaced. The bridge appears to have been left in place with no major changes since this time.
The time for planning and seeking funding for a full restoration of this bridge is now. The bridge shows numerous indications of deterioration. Of greatest concern is the steel bents on which the truss span rests. Both bents are slowly rotating (tipping over) and this is putting the truss span at risk for eventual collapse. A review of past photos of the bridge indicates that this condition has existed for many years with no major increase in rotation for a number of years. That said, it is a problem that needs to be addressed at some point to ensure the long term preservation of this nationally significant bridge.
The best form of restoration would be to fully dismantle the bridge for restoration and cleaning in a shop setting. This would allow for detailed cleaning of all connections, while also clearing the waterway for replacement of the failing bents. Some (not all) items that require repair:
Cleaning and repair where dirt builds up at the base of the keystone columns
Pin replacement (pins with greater than 50% section loss were noted)
Replace failed rivets on top chord
Replace broken lower lateral bracing rod.
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Keystone Columns
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