Chain of Rocks Bridge
Saturday, September 7, 2013 at 10:18PM
The Vestiges in Illinois, bridges

Stretching across the Mississippi between St. Louis, MO and Madison, IL is the unique Chain of Rocks Bridge. Once it carried vehicle traffic over the massive river as part of Route 66. After being marked for demolition and then rescued from the ranks of the to-be-destroyed (reportedly because there was no market for the scrap metal), it was preserved as part of a hiking and biking trail.

Despite the fact that the bridge and the trail have been the site of crime - crime that apparently is to blame for the fact that it is no longer possible to park on the St. Louis side of the bridge -- Chain of Rocks remains popular with walkers. It was worth the drive to Madison/Granite City on I-270 to see the steel truss structure for myself, despite being a bit skittish on bridges.

The Chain of Rocks bridge is a steel (Warren) truss through deck design two lanes wide measuring 5,348 feet in length with its longest continuous span at 700 feet. It stands 93 feet above an unnavigable section of the Mississippi River. (This section is bypassed by the Chain of Rocks canal, the construction of which was not related to the bridge.) The bridge's distinctive feature is a 24-degree turn midway across, approximately at the state line markers. The turn was necessitated by the fact that the land purchased on the Illinois side of the bridge was not immediately accross the river from the land purchased for the bridge on the Missouri side. Plans to build the bridge on an angle were nixed by the Army Corps of Engineers so designers compensated by adding the turn. Chain of Rocks Bridge opened to traffic in July, 1929 and was permanently closed in 1970.

Two intake houses (built in 1894 and 1911) dot the river near the bridge. These provided municipal water for the city of St. Louis.

Article originally appeared on As seen from the back roads. (
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