Technology: 1867-1900 The Eads Bridge

Even as steamboats plied the waters of the Mississippi River off the shore of East St. Louis during the latter part of the nineteenth century, businessmen recognized the value of connecting East St. Louis and St. Louis by a bridge spanning the Mississippi.  As early as the 1820s, the promise of railroads offered land transportation free from the limits of America's great rivers. By the 1860s railroads proved to
A section of a 1920s Sanborn Fire Insurance Map showing the Illinois side of the Eads Bridge.  University of Illinois Library.
be a reliable means for transporting passengers and cargo.  Entrepreneurs on both sides of the Mississippi understood that a bridge would give railroads, carts, and pedestrians an easy way to cross the river.  A bridge would reduce delays for moving freight westward then caused by the need to stop trains in East St. Louis and transport goods across the river by ferry.  A bridge would further the capital growth these investors had already placed in the American Bottom region.  A bridge was the next step to securing St. Louis as permanent transportation point between the East Coast and the expanding west.

To learn more about building railroad bridges, go to the RiverWeb Archives and view excerpts from J.L. Ringwalt's 1888 book, The Development of Transportation Systems in the United States.

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