St. Charles Rail Bridge

Cantilevered Warren Through Truss Bridge over Missouri River
Earth City, St. Louis County, Missouri
St. Charles, St. Charles County, Missouri

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name St. Charles Rail Bridge
Built By Wabash Railroad
Contractors (Superstructure) American Bridge Company of New York
Mt. Vernon Bridge Company of Mt. Vernon, Ohio
Contractor (Substructure) Bates & Rogers Construction Company of Chicago
Contractor (Erection) Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Company of Leavenworth, Kansas
Engineer Modjeski, Masters & Chase
Currently Owned By Norfolk Southern Railway
Length 7,876 Feet Total, 1,645 Foot Cantilevered Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 86 Feet
Superstructure Type Cantilevered Warren Through Truss and Deck Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry, Concrete and Steel Tower
Date Built 1936
Traffic Count 10 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
NS Bridge Number 22.05
Significance High Significance
Documentation Date June 2016
In 1851, the North Missouri Railroad began building a line from St. Louis, Missouri to Moberly, Missouri. This line would stretch approximately halfway across Missouri and be extended in other directions by other railroads.

The railroad would be completed by 1859. In 1871, the North Missouri Railroad was sold to the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway.

By 1879, the railroad became a part of the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway. This railroad, oftentimes abbreviated as the Wabash had a mass of track throughout the midwest, especially in states such as Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

By 1889, the railroad would be reorganized as the Wabash Railroad. The line would be operated by the Wabash. Branch lines to Kansas City and Des Moines would be built from Moberly.
In 1960, the railroad began being leased by the Pennsylvania Railroad. By 1970, the railroad would become incorporated with the Norfolk Western Railroad.
In 1982, the N&W merged with the Southern Railway to form Norfolk Southern Railway. By 1991, the former Wabash would become a fully owned part of the NS.

Today, the Norfolk Southern operates this as it's St. Louis District, which stretches from Louisville to Moberly. This section is the western half of the St. Louis District.

The line sees a heavy traffic base, especially with a connection to Kansas City.

View an article regarding the construction of this bridge.

The largest bridge over the Missouri River is the massive bridge at St. Charles, Missouri.
The first bridge was built here in 1868 by the Phoenix Bridge Company and Keystone Bridge Company. A lightweight structure, the bridge would be replaced between 1880 and 1885 with new trusses, built by a variety of contractors, including Edge Moor Bridge Works, Kellogg & Maurice Bridge Company, Detroit Bridge & Iron Works and Phoenix Bridge Company.

Historic Photo
First Wabash Bridge, from the Railroad Gazette; Volume 3

When constructed, this bridge pushed the meaning of massive. At nearly 8,000 feet long and over a mile and a half long; it is also the largest railroad bridge in Missouri.
The bridge crosses the Missouri River, Missouri Highways 94 and 141, and an abandoned railroad grade. Simply put, and this cannot be repeated enough, this bridge is massive.
The main span is a large cantilevered warren through truss span. A cantilevered span counts as one span, despite having three spans by definition. While the main span is only 625 feet long and has 20 panels, anchor arms are also included.

Historic Photo
Second Wabash Bridge

The East anchor arm is 425 feet long, and contains 12 panels. The West anchor is only 285 feet long, and contains 8 panels. Total, the main span of the bridge is 1,645 feet long and contains 40 panels of riveted warren through truss.
In addition, the East end of the bridge contains a single warren through truss approach span. This span is 310 feet long and has 10 panels.
The approaches on either side are built of deck girder trestle. These trestles ensure this bridge will never be washed out, and cross several hundred feet of flood plain.
Substructures are built of a combination of stone and concrete. The main river piers were built of stone, while the approach trestle rests on concrete pedestals.

Historic Photo
Historic advertisement of the bridge. From James Holzmeier collection, used with permission

The Wabash built this signature bridge on a new alignment in 1936, to replace an aging bridge upstream. It opened to traffic on October 13th, 1936 at a cost of 3.25 Million dollars. In 2016 dollars, that would be about 56 Million Dollars.
The author has ranked this stately bridge as being highly significant, due to it being one of the largest railroad bridges in the United States, and especially the Midwest. Despite the newer age, this bridge is one of the most impressive structures the author has ever seen.
The photo above is an overview. The photo below is a detail of the portal bracing on the bridge. The bridge can be seen clearly from MO-370.

Missouri River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Old Wabash Bridge
Downstream Bellefontaine Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series

Detail Photos From June 2016


Source Type


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

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