June 20, 2013

The Mississippi River Bridge

The Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis was constructed from 1867 to its opening in 1874. The structure was built by Captain James Buchanan Eads, and is considered the first bridge made of steel. The U.S. Postal Service preferred to attach the sobriquet "Mississippi River Bridge" rather than employ the proper, personal, private name "Eads."

The span is double deck, with the upper level carrying a highway with sidewalks. On the lower deck, two lines of railroad tracks fill the space. This marks the first time steel is used in truss-bridge construction. A franchise was obtained from Congress specifying that a clear span of 500 feet must be provided. A report, published by Captain Eads in 1868, was a convincing presentation in non-technical language, on the "action of trusses and arches, also the logic of the foundation design." Progress, along with precautionary measures, were recorded in notebooks that filled seven volumes.
Funding for the Bridge building came from contracts with the Keystone Bridge Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Vice President was a young man of 35 years by the name of Andrew Carnegie. His connections with Eads were numerous. In his autobiography, completed shortly before his death, Carnegie credited his connection with Eads Bridge as starting him on his career. To this day the span is in full use.

Stamp Issue: 1898

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