In 1869 Kansas City was still a small town, much less
important than Leavenworth. The Kansas City Bridge (later called the
Hannibal Bridge) changed that quite rapidly. Designed and erected by
Octave Chanute, the bridge was the first across the Missouri River, and it
made Kansas City into a railroad hub and a center for westward expansion.
The bridge was constructed of wrought iron, sitting on limestone piers,
with a swing section to allow shipping to pass through. It was replaced by
a steel bridge in 1916.
The illustration of the completed bridge is from the book
Chanute wrote on the project; this copy was presented by Chanute to the
American Society of Civil Engineers. Chanute went on to become quite
well-known, not only for his engineering feats, but for his work on manned