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Eagle Avenue Viaduct

Eagle Avenue Viaduct

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: June 24, 2007

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Eagle Avenue Over Cuyahoga River
Cleveland: Cuyahoga County, Ohio: United States
Structure Type
Metal 14 Panel Rivet-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Movable: Vertical Lift (Span Drive) and Approach Spans: Metal Rigid-Frame, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1931 By Builder/Contractor: Strobel Steel Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois and Engineer/Design: Waddell and Hardesty of New York, New York
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
296.0 Feet (90.2 Meters)
Structure Length
296.0 Feet (90.2 Meters)
Roadway Width
39 Feet (11.89 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge has an unusual incline, which makes it noteworthy. This is similar to the Columbus Road Bridge. Like the Columbus Road Bridge, the Eagle Avenue Viaduct vertical lift bridge is also significant for its age. Indeed, the Eagle Avenue Viaduct vertical lift bridge is the oldest vertical lift in Cleveland, with a 1931 construction date. It also is noteworthy since its truss span features the Pennsylvania truss configuration.

The Eagle Avenue Viaduct originally consisted of this vertical lift bridge, as well as an extensive series of spans that led to the higher ground of the downtown area, and also provided grade separation for some rail lines. In this way, the viaduct shared an intimate history with the Stones Levee Bridge. When the viaduct was built in 1928, it was built right over the Stones Levee Bridge. People crossing the Stones Levee Bridge would be going under the viaduct, passing in between the steel bent supports of the viaduct. See the photo gallery for a few photos from ODOT showing this.

Today, all that remains of the viaduct is this vertical lift bridge, which has been abandoned in its raised position.

A number of prominent companies were associated with the construction of this bridge. Spencer, White and Prentiss of Detroit, Michigan were the general contractors. However, the noteworthy Stobel Steel Construction Company of Chicago, Illinois supplied steel for the bridge. McMyler Interstate Company of Bedford and Cleveland, Ohio helped to build the bridge along with Walsh Construction Company

Information and Findings From Ohio's Historic Bridge Inventory

Physical Description

The vertical lift bridge has a 187'-long lift main span flanked by approach spans. This is a classic Waddell-design with the battered built-up steel towers, concrete counterweights, and operators house perched in the center of the span. The trussed lift span is a Pratt configuration with polygonal upper chord and substruts.

Summary of Significance

One of four vertical lift highway bridges over the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland, the 1930-31 Eagle Avenue Bridge is a complete example of the movable bridge type. It was the first vertical lift built in Cleveland. There has been no significant change in the bridge's status since the prior inventory. The eligible recommendation remains appropriate.

A vertical lift bridge is a movable bridge that rises and descends in the same vertical plane, maintaining at all times a horizontal position. Vertical lift bridges had been built in the United States since the 1850s, but the early examples had modest span lengths and were usually associated with canals, like the Erie Canal. Engineer J. A. L. Waddell's 1894 South Halsted Street bridge over the Chicago River (Chicago, Illinois) is considered the first modern vertical lift bridge. Most long-span vertical lift bridges since the South Halsted Street bridge, including the four examples in Cleveland, have been variations of the Waddell design. The Waddell vertical lift bridge has a central power source, housed in a mechanical room on the lift span and moving up and down with it. Gear trains transfer power to the winding drums and wire ropes. The span is raised and lowered by means of the ropes passing over sheaves on built-up steel towers and connected to concrete counterweights about equal to the span weight. Vertical lift bridges, most dating from the 1910s to 1960s, are found throughout the U.S. over navigable rivers and waterways. As of 2007, there were 187 vertical lift highway bridges in the U.S. as reported in federal NBI data. There are also a significant number of vertical lift railroad bridges, which operate on the same principles.


Five of the seven vertical lift or swing span movable bridges are located in industrial Cleveland over the Cuyahoga River and date to 1901. Their ranks are augmented by the many vertical lift, swing span and rolling lift bridges that carry railroads over navigable water. Railroad bridges are not included in this database, but they certainly represent their technologies as well as the vehicular examples, and when considered as a whole population, the bridge types are common. The bridge has moderate significance.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Eagle Avenue Viaduct


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Bridge Photo-Documentation

A collection of overview and detail photos. This photo gallery contains a combination of Original Size photos and Mobile Optimized photos in a touch-friendly popup viewer.
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Maps and Links: Eagle Avenue Viaduct

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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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