Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, & Technology
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British Bridges
Missouri Bridges

Missouri Bridges

The Kansas City Bridge
The St. Louis Bridge
Building the Piers
Arches & Roadways
Keystone Bridge Co.

Centuries of Civil Engineering

"The Great Bridge at St Louis: Erection of the Superstructure."
Scientific American, Nov. 15, 1873.
Water Supply
Image Index


The St. Louis Bridge over the Mississippi River was designed by James Buchanan Eads, who built iron-clad steamers during the Civil War for the Federal Government, but who had never before designed a bridge. He chose an arch design, with the arches made of cast steel tubes. It was the first use of cast steel in a major bridge. The bridge was begun in 1867 and opened for traffic in 1874.

The arches were erected from each pier or abutment and supported by cantilevers until they could be joined at the center. The process of closure was a tricky one, as all eight tubes had to join precisely and simultaneously. This view from the American periodical Scientific American shows the closing of the east arch, which was successfully accomplished in September, 1873.


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