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Riverside Bridge

Biers Ford Bridge

Riverside Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: March 6, 2010 and November 14, 2016

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Riverside Drive Over Finley River
Location
Rural: Christian County, Missouri: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1909 By Builder/Contractor: Canton Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
1924
Main Span Length
100 Feet (30.48 Meters)
Structure Length
274 Feet (83.52 Meters)
Roadway Width
11.5 Feet (3.51 Meters)
Spans
2 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
19056

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge is in storage!

Bridge Status: Bridge is being relocated to the nearby Ozark Mill.

Additional Information as of 2019: This bridge was relocated from nearby West McCracken Street over Finley Creek, at the site of the Ozark Mill, to this location in 1924. As of 2019, this bridge is now bring moved back to a location next to the original location, as part of the preservation of the historic Ozark Mill. The bridge will be preserved for non-motorized traffic. Funding is provided by Bass Pro Shops who deserve to be thanked for saving this bridge which was at risk for demolition for many years.

View the Save Riverside Bridge Facebook Page

View a HistoricBridges.org Study: Truss Bridge Decline In Christian County and Missouri

Bridge Overview

The Riverside Bridge carries Riverside Drive over Finley Creek in Christian County, Missouri. The bridge consists of two 6-panel steel pin-connected Pratt through truss main spans and two steel stringer approach spans. The bridge's substructure consists of concrete abutments, wingwalls, and piers. The current deck surface is concrete over corrugated steel deck supported by steel deck stringers. The bridge was constructed in 1909 by the Canton Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. The bridge's historic trusses retain a remarkably high degree of historic integrity.

The traditionally composed truss spans are configured as follows: upper(top) chord/end post: back-to-back channels with cover plate and v-lacing; lower(bottom) chord: 2 loop-forged rectangular eyebars; hip verticals: 1 square loop-forged eyebar. Other verticals: back-to-back channels with v-lacing; diagonals: 2 loop-forged square eyebars; counters: 1 round loop-forged eyebar with turnbuckle; lateral bracing: round rod with threaded ends; strut (sway bracing): 2 angles; floor beams: rolled American Standard Beams (I-beams), field-bolted to vertical; guardrail: 2 channels; portal bracing: angle A-frame with decorative lacing; portal builder's plate: 1909 THE CANTON BRIDGE Co. BUILDERS CANTON OHIO

Physical Condition of the Truss

Riverside Bridge remains open to traffic. The bridge is considered functionally obsolete because in its current configuration, the volume of traffic on the road is too high for a one-lane truss bridge.

Impact damage on bridge.

The bridge has structural deficiency as well, however HistoricBridges.org is confident that these problems can be repaired. HistoricBridges.org has not documented or inspected the bridge in person. However, based upon photos of the bridge, physical condition of the structure appears to be remarkably good for a bridge built in 1909 that has only received general maintenance and repairs over its life and has not yet received a comprehensive rehabilitation. The most serious apparent issue is vehicular impact damage to the bottom of a vertical member. The damage comes in the form of significant bending near the bottom of the vertical. In many cases with pin-connected truss bridges, such bending would give inspectors reason to close the bridge to all traffic. However, this bridge has not been closed to traffic although it is being closely monitored. There are several conclusions which can be inferred from all of this. First, if the bridge can take such damage and still have enough strength to be safe for continued vehicular use without repair, this suggests that the overall bridge condition is relatively good compared to other bridges of this type elsewhere. Secondly, significant, yet isolated damage to a bridge of this type (which could easily be repaired in a comprehensive rehabilitation or restoration project) can result in the overall ratings for the bridge in question to be reduced. To casual onlookers, any reduced ratings might look like an indicator of overall bridge condition. However because it is serious yet isolated damage, the reality is that the overall bridge is in better condition than these ratings would suggest. Detailed inspection reports would reveal these facts, but often all the general public hears or sees is the posted weight limit and the generalized National Bridge Inventory assessments (structure ratings, sufficiency ratings, and "structurally deficient" assessment).

An Uncertain Future

Riverside Bridge is a bridge at risk for demolition, since there is an ongoing study being conducted to determine how to improve the deficiencies found at the Finley River crossing of Riverside Drive. Christian County has expressed interest in improving the deficiencies by constructing a new bridge. HistoricBridges.org does not dispute the possible need for a new bridge, however is strongly supporting the development of a preservation solution for the existing historic bridge in addition to any plan to construct a new bridge that might be developed. Initial county plans/expectations had included the demolition of the Riverside Bridge according to local newspaper articles; demolition of the historic bridge should be avoided at all costs.

Fortunately, there is significant community interest in developing a preservation solution. There is a Facebook Group dedicated to the preservation of the Riverside bridge.

Currently the county has been made aware of the interest in preserving the bridge. While there does not appear to be any interest by the county to expend money to preserve the bridge, they appear willing to work with any proposed plan that does not involve them spending money, and does not affect their plans for a new bridge. Such solutions might include having a third party (city, trail organization, historic society, museum, etc) take ownership of the bridge and preserve it. One problem has been the outdated assessment of the bridge in the Historic bridge Inventory as not eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. However, while working with several individuals in Missouri, HistoricBridges.org completed a request for a reassessment of eligibility for this bridge and as a result there is now an ongoing revaluation of the bridge by the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) that will most likely find the bridge eligible for the National Register.

Numerous Preservation Solutions for Riverside Bridge

There are so many alternatives to the demolition of Riverside Bridge that there is no reason why the Riverside Bridge should be demolished. There are several preservation alternatives have have very little cost to them and may very likely cost less than the cost of demolishing the bridge.

It may be possible (and indeed prudent) to build the new bridge on a different alignment. If the bridge is bypassed, there are a couple alternatives that become available. One option is to fully restore the bridge for non-motorized use. This was done with the M-65 Bridge in Michigan. In addition, it might be possible to develop a park around the bridge, and/or add a non-motorized trail that connects the bridge to a nearby non-motorized trail system. The McKeowen Road Bridge is an example of a bridge which had a park developed around it. If no money is currently available for preservation work, the historic bridge could be simply abandoned in its current condition with no work done on the structure. Depending on the condition of the bridge, it can remain open to pedestrians as in the Taylors Ford Bridge in Iowa or it can be blocked off with access forbidden as in the CR-3 Bridge in West Virginia. Without traffic on the bridge, historic truss bridges can usually stand for decades in an abandoned state. In addition, if in the future public interest and/or available money becomes available, the abandoned bridge can be fully restored (and even relocated if needed) at a later date and placed back into a functional use, likely as a non-motorized crossing. Consider Michigan's State Street Bridge. The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic and abandoned in 1976 although pedestrians were still allowed on the bridge. In 1991, the bridge was deemed to have deteriorated to the point where it was closed to pedestrians and fenced off. For 19 more years it stood, and in early 2010, a full 34 years after it was closed to vehicular traffic, a project to completely restore the bridge and reopen it for pedestrian use began. This bridge clearly shows the value of choosing to simply abandon a bridge instead of demolishing it.

An option for keeping the bridge in its current location and in vehicular use is to construct a new one-lane bridge next to the historic bridge, with the historic bridge being rehabilitated for continued vehicular traffic, forming a one-way couplet of bridges. The Okemos Road Bridges are an example of an older couplet of two-lane bridges, and they demonstrate the concept.

If leaving the historic bridge in its current location is not feasible, the bridge should be relocated. Common destinations for a relocated bridge include parks and non-motorized trail-ways.

 In a new location, the bridge can be fully restored to serve a functional purpose, likely carrying non-motorized traffic, and crossing a feature (river, road, railroad, etc). Michigan has done this many times, as seen with Kent Street Bridge and Historic Bridge Park. Alternatively, a relocated bridge can be simply be set on the ground as a non-functional interpretive exhibit, such as was done with the Hardin City Bridge. Even as a non-functional exhibit, it is possible to place a deck on the bridge, perhaps along with benches or picnic tables so people can interact with the bridge. The Moneek Bridge in Iowa demonstrates this. An exhibit bridge can also be placed on a trail but not crossing anything to give the feeling of crossing a bridge. The Freeport Bridge demonstrates this. The exhibit option is appealing for situations where there is little preservation money available, since little to no repairs would need to be made to the bridge because it would not be supporting anything. Similar to abandoning the bridge in place, this option is also appealing because the bridge remains available for relocation and full restoration should the money and community interest provide for it in the future.

Finally, if the money or location for any of the above preservation solutions cannot be found, the bridge should be carefully labeled, disassembled, and stored in a secure location where it can be available for re-erection at a future date. Pin-connected truss bridges are designed in such a way that they are easy to disassemble. Further, they take up a remarkably small amount of space when in a disassembled state stacked up on the ground. Despite how large they appear when standing, truss bridges actually make economical use of materials and there is less materials to the bridge than it appears. Several states have done this. Michigan and Indiana both have several bridges in storage. One example of the Fort Street Bridge.

The primary goal is to choose any feasible solution that prevents the beautiful historic Riverside Bridge from being reduced to a pile of scrap metal, which has been and will be the fate for thousands of historic bridges in the United States. Deciding which preservation solution is appropriate should be based both on what is feasible to do with the bridge, as well as what the community supports.

The trend is that public interest and thus available preservation money will increase as time goes by. As time goes by, more and more bridges of this type will be demolished and the population of surviving examples will shrink making those bridges which do survive more rare and unique as time goes by. As a result, the public will likely begin to stop taking these disappearing treasures for granted and realize that action needs to be taken before they are all be lost.

Construction History

Missouri's Historic Bridge Inventory conducted for MoDOT by Fraserdesign provides the following history of the bridge.

In August 1909 the Christian County Court received bids for a bridge that would span Finley Creek at the Old Wagon Bridge site by the Cumming Factory north of Ozark. The court that month contracted with the Canton Bridge Company to fabricate and build the two-span truss for $3648.00. Canton had poured the concrete piers and abutments by the end of September; by the end of the year the Ohio-based company had fabricated the trusses from steel rolled by Cambria and erected them on-site. From the turn of the century until the late 1910s, the Canton Bridge Company designed, fabricated and erected virtually all of Christian County's truss bridges. The Riverside Bridge reflects Canton's proclivity for pin-connected Pratt trusses.

Historical Background: The Canton Bridge Company

Builder plaque.

Riverside Bridge was built by the Canton Bridge Company, a prolific builder of metal bridges in the late 1800s and early 1900s. David Hammond, who created the Canton Bridge Company, was also the creator of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, which was the largest pre-1900 builder of metal bridges in the United States. David Hammond held a number of patents on metal bridges and as such was instrumental in the development of new technologies and designs of metal bridges. Unlike the Wrought Iron Bridge Company which was absorbed into the American Bridge Company at the turn of the 20th Century, Canton Bridge Company lived on into the 20th Century.

The Historic American Engineering Record provides substantial history on David Hammond and the Canton Bridge Company which he formed. HAER No. OH-23 Third Street S.E. Bridge provides the following history of David Hammond and the initial formation of the Canton Bridge Company:

David Hammond, founder of the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, was born on a farm in Plain Township in 1830. When he was 18, he moved to Canton where and began his apprenticeship with the prominent carpenter, William P. Prince. By 1860, David Hammond had established his own building construction company and along with other work constructed several timber bridges. Not satisfied with the limitations of timber members and their connections in bridge construction, he developed the combination bridge, which substituted certain iron members in the structure to eliminate recurring problems and weak details. In this endeavor he worked with Washington Reeves, a local metal worker, and John Laird, owner of the local foundry. They also determined it was possible to design and manufacture ail-iron bridges. In 1862, David Hammond obtained a contract to construct an iron bridge over the middle branch of Nimishiuen Creek in Canton, for $1,200. The bridge was to have a span of 60 feet and carry a 12-feet roadway. The bridge was erected and proved to be satisfactory in all respects.

The partnership of Hammond and Reeves was formed in 1864, to engage in bridge building and general contracting. They erected a small fabricating plant in the vicinity of the Fort Wayne Railroad (Conrail) near the Union Mill Dam (west branch of Nimishiuen Creek) and proceeded to obtain contracts for repair projects and to construct small bridges. It appears that Reeves was satisfied and interested in seeking only small projects whereas Hammond was more interested in growth and in seeking larger projects. As a result, David Hammond formed the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in 1865, and for the next four years both companies continued to operate out of the small fabricating plant, In time, the workload of the growing Wrought Iron Bridge Company began to dominate the dual operation and strain the limited capacity of the plant. In 1870, the partnership of Hammond and Reeves was terminated and Washington Reeves returned to the metalworking trade.
In 1871, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company was incorporated with $100,000 capital and an ambitious program for growth. A new fabricating facility was erected at East Ninth and Saxton Streets, (Fourth Street S.E. and Savannah Avenue), opposite the passenger station of the Fort Wayne Railroad. Skilled workers and graduate engineers were hired and branch offices established to support a widespread sales effort. The results were amazing and the newly incorporated company immediately took its place among the leading bridge builders in the country. The sales grew from 100 bridges in 1871 to 490 in 1880. By 1880 the company had erected 3,300 spans with bridges located in 25 states and Canada. During this period, David Hammond served as president. In 1881, he was removed as president and for the next nine years served as sales agent and in other capacities. In 1890, David Hammond resigned from the Wrought Iron Bridge Company and withdrew his stock.

In 1891, his son Vinton and son-in-law, John Reed, convinced David Hammond that he was too young to retire and together they organized the Canton Bridge Company. The company was incorporated with $150,000 capital and erected a fabricating facility at Beiden and Wheeler (Tenth Street N.E.) Streets in Canton. David Hammond was elected president in 1893 and served in that capacity until 1897, when he voluntarily stepped down to the vice-presidency, where he served until his death in 1905. The Canton Bridge Company was as much of a success as the Wrought Iron Bridge Company, Established in a similar manner, the Canton Bridge Company also took its place among the leading bridge builders in the country. By 1902, they had built more than 6,000 bridges.

HAER MO-28 Riddle Street Bridge continues with history of the Canton Bridge Company:

Massillon Steel Joist Co. (Ohio) bought the Canton Bridge Co. in 1925. Although these companies operated separately for four years, they merged and formed the Macomber Steel Company, The Canton Bridge Company supplied an uncalculated number of bridges across the State of Missouri. The annual operating capacity of the company In 1894, 1896, and 1898 was 3500 long tons in each year; the annual capacity in 1903 was 5000 long tons.

Historic Significance of Riverside Bridge

Riverside bridge is historically and technologically significant as an outstanding, unaltered example of a metal pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, a once-common structure type that has become increasingly rare nationally, statewide, and locally. These aging bridges have been demolished and replaced with new bridges at a staggering rate nationwide. The Riverside Bridge is an excellent surviving representative example of this bridge type. Its longer, two-span configuration also sets it ahead of shorter single-span examples, which are more numerous.

Including the Riverside Bridge, there are only five truss bridges of any kind remaining in Christian County. Only one bridge other than the Riverside Bridge is a pin-connected through truss, and this other bridge is a single span structure instead of two spans. In 1992, there were nine metal truss bridges remaining in Christian County. Four of those have been demolished. This is a significant local decline in truss bridges, and is a reflection of national trends. Because of the demolition of other truss bridges in the county, the Riverside Bridge is today distinguished as the oldest metal truss bridge in Christian County, and the only multi-span pin-connected through truss.

The Riverside Bridge is further an example of a bridge that has become rare through attrition on a statewide basis. Missouri Department of Transportation provided the following information:

An examination of information in the Missouri Historic Bridge Inventory and MODOT Bridge Management System data reveals that in the late 1980s and early 1990s Missouri had 195 pin-connected Pratt through trusses built prior to 1951. A recent search indicates there are now 65 of these left in the state. (The Excel list is attached). Their built dates range from 1884 to 1939. Two of these are in Christian County. Seventeen of the 65 are concentrated in southwestern Missouri and another 15 are located in the northeastern portion of the state. Some of them have been moved and re-erected at alternate locations. The Riverside Bridge was moved to its present location in the 1920s. It and five others each have two identical spans; most have only one span. Twelve of the 65 are currently closed to traffic and nearly all of the rest are posted with weight limits.

Metal pin-connected truss bridges were the most common type of bridge from the 1880s and into the first decade of the 20th Century, and the Pratt truss configuration was the most common type of truss employed. Pin-connected truss bridges were favored during this period because they were sturdy, reliable, and made efficient use of materials. They also could be fabricated in a factory, shipped to a site, and easily erected by local labor. Pinned connections rapidly fell from favor in the first years of the 20th Century when it became feasible to fashion rigid riveted connections for truss bridges in the field. Truss bridges themselves saw a gradual decline in popularity throughout the 20th Century as simpler structure types became feasible to construct, such as the steel stringer (beam) bridge, concrete t-beam bridge, and pre-stressed concrete bridges. As such, the Riverside Bridge displays not only exhibits distinctive designs and engineering techniques of a period in history; it also highlights designs that have indeed not been in use for decades.

The Riverside Bridge also displays historic metal fabrication methods and techniques in its original material, which is also a record of the craftsmen who fabricated it. The Riverside Bridge displays these features clearly because of the lack of alteration to the original material and design of the truss. Features including rivets, built-up beams with v-lacing, loop-forged eyebars, and rolled American Standard Beam i-beams are all examples of historic metal fabrication methods and designs. These features have not been seen in bridge design for decades.

These reasons all clearly show that the preservation of the Riverside Bridge is essential.

Information and Findings From Missouri's Historic Bridge Inventory

Bridge Features

Erection date: 1909

Condition: good

Alterations: guardrail, deck and approach spans replaced

Floor/decking : concrete over corrugated steel deck with steel stringers

Truss Features: upper chord and inclined end post: 2 channels with cover plate and lacing; lower chord: 2 looped rectangular eyebars; vertical: 1 square looped eyebar, 2 channels with lacing; diagonal: 2 looped square eyebars; counter: 1 round eyebar with turnbuckle; lateral bracing: round rod with threaded ends; strut: 2 angles; floor beam: I-beam, field- bolted to vertical; guardrail: 2 channels; portal strut: angle A-frame with decorative lacing; portal builder's plate: 1909 / THE CANTON BRIDGE Co. BUILDERS / CANTON OHIO erection cost: $3648.00 (contract amount) designer: Canton Bridge Company, Canton OH fabricator: Canton Bridge Company, Canton OH; Cambria Steel Company, Pittsburgh PA contractor: Canton Bridge Company, Canton OH

Discussion of Bridge

In August 1909 the Christian County Court received bids for a bridge that would span Finley Creek at the Old Wagon Bridge site by the Cumming Factory north of Ozark. The court that month contracted with the Canton Bridge Company to fabricate and build the two span truss for $3648.00. Canton had poured the concrete piers and abutments by the end of September; by the end of the year the Ohio based company had fabricated the trusses from steel rolled by Cambria and erected them on-site. The Riverside Bridge's two channel spans each measure 100 feet in length, and are approached on one side by steel stringer spans (since replaced). The deck and guardrails have also been replaced. The structure, otherwise, has maintained its original integrity, and continues to carry vehicular traffic.

From the turn of the century until the late 1910s, the Canton Bridge Company designed, fabricated and erected virtually all of Christian County's truss bridges. The Riverside Bridge reflects Canton's proclivity for pin-connected Pratt trusses. It typifies medium-scale truss design and detailing for its period of construction - and is one of thousands of Pratt through trusses built throughout the state in the early 20th century. With unremarkable design and modest dimensions, the Riverside Bridge is one of hundreds of such trusses that remain in place on Missouri's county roads.

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: No. Reevaluation of this finding is in progress.

View Original PDF Historic Bridge Inventory Sheet

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