The Bellefontaine Bridge

This fall we finally finished processing Record Group 3, Correspondence. It took nearly a year and came to over 300 linear feet of material.

Now I am working on Record Group 8, Other Corporations, which encompasses the dozens of rail lines that were owned or otherwise enveloped by the CB&Q. Some of the earliest materials in the entire collection are in this record group, which not only contains records of rail lines, but also the odd company or depot, and in this case, the Bellefontaine Bridge.

Bellefontaine Bridge, Record Group 8 B 15

The Bellefontaine Bridge began construction on July 4th, 1892 and opened on December 27, 1893. It is a single track truss bridge made up of 4 spans of 440 feet and crosses the Missouri River between St. Charles and St. Louis Counties in Missouri along U. S. Route 67.

It must have been a celebrated endeavor as C. E. Perkins saw fit to commission a set of two luxurious books on the design and construction of the bridge. One book contains a narrative report by the prominent civil engineer George S. Morrison who was known for his steel truss bridges. He designed and built five bridges over the Mississippi and ten across the Missouri including the Bellefontaine. The report details costs, materials, building progress, employees, and contractors.

Illustration from the Bellefontaine Bridge Report, Record Group 8 B 15

The companion book is quite large, 33” x 23.5,” and contains technical drawings and structural specs by Irving Dickinson. The illustrations of maps, viaducts, piers, trusses, and caissons are rendered with meticulous detail and the sheer size of the book gives one a sense of the magnitude of the project.

The Bellefontaine is still used to this day and now carries freight for the Burlington, Northern and Santa Fe Railway.

Bellefontaine Bridge today. Photo courtesy Wikipedia Commons


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