Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis MS

The bridge was for a time the route used by U.S. Route 66 (US 66) to cross over the Mississippi. Its most notable feature is a 22-degree bend occurring at the middle of the crossing. Originally a motor route, the bridge now carries walking and biking trails over the river. РWikipedia

In January, en route from Ottawa to Gilbert, we stopped at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge outside St. Louis for a cold-cold-cold attempt at a photo shoot.

Truss bridge stretching across the Mississippi River.

View from river level, in January.

I vowed to come back when it was warmer, and so we stopped again in early April, on our way home. The day was significantly warmer, but the light was nowhere near as nice on our second stop. I still got some shots that show the unusual bend in this bridge, as well as the complexity and power of its truss structure.

Deck-level view of bend in bridge.

Looking west at bend in bridge, in April.


Deck level view of truss structure of bridge.

Looking back into eastern segment of bridge, in April.


View of mail support for truss superstructure

Truss structure


Close-up of green and rusty truss structure with new foliage in background.

Truss construction


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6 Responses to Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, St. Louis MS

  1. Jim Robertson says:

    Nice study of a bridge. (And nice of them not to tear it down when it was no longer needed for vehicles.)

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim – Yeah, I don’t know what the maintenance costs would be. There was plenty of what looked like rust on the trusses. From all the online warnings, they need to invest more in policing the area, but maybe it’s not their highest priority in St. Louis. I did see a few cyclists, and a photographer doing stylized portraits at the entrance gates (which I think they lock at dusk), so it gets an interesting range of uses as a unique public space in the countryside.

  2. Judith Umbach says:

    Never heard of such a bridge – good to know engineers and designers took the trouble to accommodate whatever prompted the bend. I particularly like the Truss Structure photo.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – Regarding the bend, I understand it was initially designed to be straight, but had to bend partly to facilitate river traffic (something about too many structures in a small area, because it was adjacent to some water intakes) and partly to reroute that last section over bedrock sufficiently strong to support it. Always a good idea to go for structural integrity. Regarding that photo – it’s my favourite, too.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    Once upon a time bridges had to be straight — perhaps the engineers’ slide-rules (A slide rule? What’s that?) couldn’t cope with calculating the stresses on a structure with a bend in it. But nowadays, there seems to be no limit to the bends one can engineer into a structure. I’ve seen pictures of highways in China that look almost free-form. My favourite Canadian bendy bridge is the one in the Kicking Horse Canyon, upstream from Golden, coming down from Yolo National Park. Sorry, don’t have pictures…
    Jim T

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