Crescent Bridge

Through Truss Swing Bridge over Mississippi River
Rock Island, Rock Island County, Illinois
Davenport, Scott County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Crescent Bridge
Built By Davenport, Rock Island & Northwestern Railway
Chief Engineer Charles Frederick Loweth of Cleveland, Ohio
Contractor (Main Spans) Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Contractor (Iowa Approach) Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Currently Owned By Canadian Pacific Railway
Length 2,383 Feet Total, 442 Foot Swing Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Truss and Deck Girder
Substructure Type Concrete and Stone Masonry
Date Built Opened 1898
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimate)
Current Status In Use
Significance National Significance
Documentation Date March 2015
In 1897, the Davenport, Rock Island & North Western Railway began construction on a line to connect the two river cities.

By 1900, the line extended a total length of 3.8 miles, including a new railroad structure over the Mississippi River at Davenport and Rock Island.

In 1901, the railroad purchased more trackage of small companies around the area, including a line to Clinton and several spurs around Rock Island. The total length of the road was expanded to 48.5 Miles.

The new line and bridge was built and purchased with the interests of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, as well as the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railways, who had joint control of the short line.

While the new road thrived for years, the controlling railroads saw much change. The CB&Q became the Burlington Northern in 1970, after a merge with Northern Pacific and Great Northern.
The CM&StP became the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific in 1913, and eventually became a part of the Soo Line Railroad in 1985.

When the DRI&NW went out of business in 1995, the railroads split control of the remaining property. While the line to Clinton was at this time, the railroads took joint custody of the remaining track.

Today, BNSF and Canadian Pacific share control of the remaining portions of the line, including the historic Crescent Bridge.

Simply a beautiful structure. In the authors opinion, this bridge is one of the most visually appealing and beautiful bridges in the United States.

Numerous factors can lead to a bridge being as visually appealing as this one. First, the backdrop. The river is nearly half a mile wide at this location, and a blue sky and blue-brown water make for a visually contrasting picture.
The latticework, unique contrast of spans and geometry of the spans also gives a distinct look to the bridge. Finally, the stone piers give a good look to the bridge.
The main span is a single 442 Foot Swing Span, with the two spans connecting over a tower. Each span is 221 feet in length, giving a wide navigation channel of nearly 200 feet. Each span includes laced endposts.

Each of the two connected spans that make up the swing span are pin connected, 7 panel pratt through trusses.

On the Illinois Side, the bridge sees a dramatic curve to the east from the north. All three of the spans are skewed, 7 panel pin connected Pratt Through Trusses at 200 Feet Long.
The spans are heavily laced for the era, including laced endposts.
The spans rest primarily on stone substructures, while the northern pier connecting to the swing span is concrete.

The Iowa approach features four huge crescent shaped Pennsylvania Through Trusses, in which the bridge gets its name.
Each span is a massive structure, featuring heavy pin connections, massive lattice style sway and portal bracing, laced endposts and varying sizes.
The southernmost Iowa Approach is a whopping 360 Feet Long, with 12 panels. The remaining spans are 300 Feet each, with 10 panels.
The remaining Iowa approach is a short 85 Foot Fishbellied Deck Plate Girder, added in 1905 by the Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company.
All substructures, with the exception of the north abutment are stone.
Overall, the bridge is likely the more significant structure in the Quad Cities, over the Government Bridge. The other bridge is a 1,850 Foot Long Baltimore Through Truss, combined for Road and Railroad use.
However, this bridge does not receive the attention it deserves. While it can be seen from the Centennial Bridge (US-67), it is not as visible and celebrated as the Government Bridge.

This bridge should be considered a Nationally Significant Bridge, and should be preserved in the current configuration at all costs.
The bridge is easily viewed from trails on either side of the river.

The photo above is looking from the east bank. The Illinois approaches can be seen to the right, the Iowa approaches in the left. The swing span is parked in open position.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges
Upstream (Sylvan Slough) IAIS Sylvan Slough Bridge
Upstream (Main Channel) Government (Arsenal) Bridge
Downstream Keithsburg Lift Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series, for the Pictures taken by others
Details Photos from March 2015


Source Type


Build Date Builders plaque
Contractor Historic Documentation
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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