Thursday, September 3, 2015

My Sepia Saturday Contribution - One less bridge to cross. . .

Sepia Sat. Blog

 "Construction on the bridge began in August, 1902 with the sinking of the piers. Workers who worked inside the piers were called sandhogs. They worked one hour at a time twice a day inside the piers. One worker died as a result of the bends.
Progress on the bridge was slow for several reasons. Shipments of raw materials including lumber and steel were delayed. Inclement weather threatened work stoppages on several occasions. A dispute developed over the right-of-way needed for construction that had to be settled in court. And finally, raw materials had to be stored on the St. Louis County side due to the lack of available space in St. Charles. This forced workers to ferry materials and supplies across the river when needed on the St. Charles side.
Construction was completed in the spring of 1904 in time for the world's fair in St. Louis. The bridge was a combination highway and streetcar bridge. The streetcar station at the western terminus of the bridge still stands at 2nd and Adams in St. Charles. It was operated as toll by the St. Charles and St. Louis County Bridge Company until December, 1931. At that time it was incorporated in the state highway system as part of U.S. Route 40. Tolls and trolleys ceased in January, 1932.
In June 1959, the bridge was re-designated as part of Route 115 after a new U.S. Route 40 bridge opened that would later become part of Interstate 70. The bridge remained part of SR-115 until it was replaced by the Discovery Bridge. It was closed to traffic in 1992 and demolished in 1998."
The above view and this one are from the late 50's or very early 60's and are a view east from St Charles towards St Louis County.
Up until about 1959 after the interstate system had started this would have been the only direct access to St Charles from St Louis.
The nearest bridge south was about 15 miles away and served the southern part of the county.
But this one was the only direct access to the city of St Charles.
Much of this view has changed now. Traffic was stopped on this bridge in 1992, with the bridge, sadly, coming down in 1998. On the very left edge of the above photo you can see what looks like the edge of a tall building or tower.

This is the same view now looking east. The store on the left can be seen in the first two images.

This is a photo of that tower like building, and this is what you have seen coming west has you arrived in St Charles.
When the bridge was first built it served as a trolley bridge and auto bridge and was completed in time for the 1904 Worlds fair. This building served as a depot for the trolley line. 

Another view of the building with passengers and a trolley.
When I was growing up and we would travel to St Louis this is the bridge we would have used.

The towered depot still stands also.

Although much of the charm still exists on Main St now, it is all based on tourism and not daily commerce as it had been still when I was young.

Cantilevered out on the south side was a walk-way that went all the way across the bridge. It also crossed over the Main St. Stairs led up to this walk way from Main St. St. Charles.

 This is a view of the bridge looking from St Louis County just a few years before it came down.
You can see the walk-way on this side of the bridge.

A buddy of mine was once walking along the walk-way taking pictures when he spotted a body floating in the river below.

 For a very short period of time St Charles had a ponton bridge contecting it to St Louis County.
St Charles is in the background.
River ice would have made this bridge impossible to maintain.
 Looking west towards St Charles just before you would have gotten off the bridge. The building below the bridge still stands and looks much the same.

This is a view of Main St. looking from the walk-way south.
It looked much like this when I was growing up, except the cars were newer. 

Another picture of the old depot.


  1. It's a little sad when the bridges of our youth come down. I haven't seen the new eastern span of the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge in person yet, or the beginning demolition of the old eastern cantilever section, except in pictures, but I feel sad about it as I used to commute daily to work over that bridge including the old cantilever section.

    1. I know what you mean. I miss the old bridge and had hoped it could be used for a bike route or hiking trail.

  2. As other Sepians can tell you, I just love "before and after" shots -- and these are really great. Glad they saved the trolley depot; sorry about the monstrosities they've put up instead of those lovely old buildings. But...these are truly "bridges to the past." Nice post.

  3. More glorious bridge photos - my eye is always drawn to bridges - they are so important to civilisation : towns and cities built up around them, people joined together by them.

  4. Some great snaps of Vintage Americana. Nice Post.

  5. Oh my goodness - what on earth happened on the 25th June 1935? I'm trying to work out what's going on in that photo!

    1. In 1935 a train running on the line underneath ran away and a car came off the track and destroyed one of the towers holding up one section of the above bridges.

  6. Where I live there are a lot of small two lane bridges and the state keeps tearing them down and putting up new ones. I'm hating the new ones. None of them have any personality. Instead of being exciting and interesting to cross they're just boring cement structures. Economics are ruining this country and turning one end to the other into a melding pot of sameness. Sorry to see your bridge is gone.

  7. Wow, did you ever bridge the way with all these lovely views as well as the sturdy and crafty bridges pictured too!

  8. Wow, that runaway train caused a lot of damage!!
    I'm with you - the bridge would have made a lovely bike/walking trail.