Elsberry Rail Bridge

Lost Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Lost Creek
Elsberry, Lincoln County, Missouri

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Name Elsberry Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railroad
Length 110 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss
Date Built 1902
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge has been replaced)
Current Status Replaced by a new bridge
BNSF Bridge Number 67.97
Significance Local Significance
In 1855, the Keokuk, Mount Pleasant and Muscatine Railroad began construction of a 16 mile line from Keokuk, Iowa to Veile, Iowa. This new line would run roughly parallel to the Mississippi River.

This line would be completed in 1857, and by 1858 the Iowa Southern Junction Railroad began construction on an extension into Fort Madison. This would be completed in 1859 by the Iowa Southern Railroad.

These two railroads would become a part of the Keokuk and St. Paul Railway in 1866. By 1867, the line would be extended to Burlington, Iowa where it would meet a mainline. The line would be completed in late 1869.

Far south of Iowa, a railroad known as the Clarksville and Western Railroad begun construction of a 54 mile line stretching from St. Peters, Missouri to Louisiana, Missouri.

Similarly, the Mississippi Valley and Western Railway completed a 34 mile segment from West Quincy, Missouri to Buena Vista, Iowa in 1872. This segment was started by the Mississippi and Missouri River Air Line Railroad in 1868.

In 1873, the Clarksville and Western Railroad was purchased by the Mississippi Valley and Western Railway in 1873. This railroad would complete segments from West Quincy to Hannibal, Missouri and from Lousiana to Clarksville.

In 1875, the railroad would become part of the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railway. This railroad would complete the line between Buena Vista, Iowa and St. Peters Missouri in 1879.
Finally, in 1881; the railroad built a portion from Buena Vista to Keokuk. This created a continuous line between St. Peters and Burlington.

After a rename in 1887, the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railroad built a final 49 miles from Cuivre Junction (at Old Monroe) to St. Louis in 1892. The entire line was considered critical to the development of industry along the Mississippi River.

Both the Keokuk and St. Paul Railway, as well as the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railroad were purchased by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway in 1901. The CB&Q had been constructing a significant amount of track throughout the midwest.
In 1907, the 10 mile spur to St. Peters would be abandoned, considered unnecessary.

The remainder of the line remained critical to the CB&Q, which would eventually merge with the Northern Pacific and Great Northern to form Burlington Northern in 1970.

By 1996, the thriving BN decided to merge with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, the current owner of the line. It currently sees a solid traffic base, and is operated as the Hannibal Subdivision.

This small through truss bridge was built to cross Lost Creek in the small town of Elsberry.

The bridge is simply constructed with 5 panels and pinned connections. The design is a standard Pratt Through Truss.
Erected by American Bridge Company in 1902, the design follows the likeness of many other similar structures along the line, including the truss bridge at Old Monroe
These designs were simple, economical and commonly used by the CB&Q. Today, vast numbers of them survive on former CB&Q mainlines; despite significant amounts of destruction as well.

Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. Additional heel bracing was added in the portals within the last decade to strengthen the bridge.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design. Despite this, the bridge is no less important. A great historical integrity compounded with antique age should leave a viewer impressed by the structure.
Unfortunately, this truss bridge was replaced in 2019 by a modular concrete bridge.

The photo above is an overview.

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