Freight House Pedestrian Bridge

Michael R. Haverty Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Kansas City Southern Railway
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Freight House Pedestrian Bridge
Built By Kansas City Terminal Railway
Contractor Pencoyd Bridge & Construction Company of Pencoyd, Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By City of Kansas City
Length 240 Feet Total, 140 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss
Date Built 1892
Date Relocated 2006
Original Location West Bottoms; Kansas City, Missouri
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Open to Pedestrians
Significance High Significance
Documentation Date September 2016
The earliest of the railroads which would become the Kansas City Terminal Railway was the Union Depot Company; who constructed a segment of track between the Kansas River at Armourdale and the Missouri River near the Hannibal Bridge.
This short section track would be completed by 1879.

Another mile in Kansas City would be constructed in 1880 by the Union Transit Company. This track extended the Union Depot Company tracks along the Missouri River.
This line was purchased by the Kansas City Belt Railway in 1884. At the same time, the Kansas City Belt Railway began construction on an additional 10 miles of track, which expanded the line along the Missouri River towards Big Blue Junction.

In 1906, the Kansas City Terminal Railway was formed to operate a series of terminals and yards for the respective railroads that entered Kansas City.
Another goal of the KCT was to build a new Union Depot; since the old one continued to flood. The following railroads jointly operated the KCT:

Alton Railroad
Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway
Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad
Chicago Great Western Railway
Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway
Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Kansas City Southern Railroad
Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad
Missouri Pacific Railroad
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
Wabash Railroad

In 1910, both the Union Depot Company and the Kansas City Belt Railway were purchased by the KCT to operate.
The first goal was to complete a new cutoff through Kansas City, including a new Union Depot. A cutoff from the south end of the KCT tracks to Big Blue Junction would be completed, with a Union Depot being constructed near Main Street.

The second goal was to build a large bridge across the Kansas River; which would be protected from flooding. A massive double deck bridge with long approach viaducts would be completed by 1916.

The railroad is one of the unchanged faces of Kansas City railroading; which is the second largest rail hub in the United States.
The long list of original owners has been reduced to only a few; which include BNSF Railway, Canadian Pacific Railway, Kansas City Southern and Norfolk Southern.

Presently, the railroad is operated by the Kaw River Railroad, which is owned by Watco Companies.

The most unique small bridge in Kansas City is the Freight House Bridge (also known as the Union Station Pedestrian Bridge, Michael R. Haverty Bridge and formerly the Pencoyd Bridge).
Originally, the bridge was constructed as a three span structure located near the Second Hannibal Bridge.
The span was built in 1892 to carry portions of the Kansas City Belt Railway over the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy tracks. The skewed structure rested on stone substructures.
However, the bridge was abandoned by 1960 as the KCT consolidated operations. The bridge would sit largely unused and become a liability issue for the railroad and the city.

In 2006, fundraising began to move two spans of the old Pencoyd Bridge to the Kansas City Union Station. The bridge would serve as a bridge over the very busy railroad tracks which serve the Union Station.
The Kansas City Southern would donate the bridge to the city as a way for the bridge "to make getting places easier again".
Two spans of the bridge would be moved across Kansas City, set onto new concrete substructures and rehabilitated. The project was featured on Mega Movers.

The bridge currently consists of a pair of pin connected Pratt Through Trusses. The larger span is seven panels long; while the shorter span is only five. The shorter span is more unique, featuring laced endposts.
In addition, the bridge connects directly to an elevator down to street level.
Since its original construction, the Union Station has also become a major hub of activity in Kansas City. It has a science museum, a pair of theaters, restaurant and other amenities.
The crossroads area across the bridge is a neighborhood full of art, revitalized history and food. The bridge is expected to see an increase in traffic as the surrounding region continues to develop.

In 2012, the bridge was rededicated to honor Michael R. Haverty; who donated the bridge on behalf of Kansas City Southern and helped spearhead the project.
While the bridge is a success story; it does have two minor points the author wish would have been handled differently. The first is the fencing. The bridge was supposed to have a "cattle chute" feel. Unfortunately, this obscures views of the structure and the surrounding areas.
The other wish of the author is to redo the substructures of the bridge so they are more appropriate for the period of the truss. This may include rebuilding them with faux stone.

Despite the two major knocks against the bridge, the author has ranked it as highly significant. It is an apparent success story, which the author hopes is repeated with other structures in the future.
The photo above is an overview looking from the Union Depot. A series of photos on relocating the bridge can be seen here.


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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