New Franklin Trail Bridge

Parker Pony Truss Bridge over Bonne Femme Creek
New Franklin, Howard County, Missouri

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Name New Franklin Trail Bridge
Built By Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway
Contractor A&P Roberts Company of Pencoyd, Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By State of Missouri
Length 100 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Parker Pony Truss
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1897
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date October 2016
In 1870, the Tebo and Neosho Railroad built a rail line between the Missouri/Kansas Line and Sedalia, Missouri; a distance of 110 miles.

By 1871, the railroad would be finished and a 72 mile extension built towards Moberly, Missouri. This extension crossed the Missouri River at Boonville.

Very quickly, the railroad was purchased by the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, which was beginning to build a network in Kansas.

In another part of the state, the Central Missouri Railroad was beginning construction on a 16 mile section of rail line between Hamburg and St. Charles, Missouri.

By years end, the railroad would merge into the Cleveland, St. Louis & Kansas City Railway. This railroad begun a 146 mile expansion, in two sections.
The first expansion was started in 1890, and consisted of a track roughly paralleling the Missouri River from New Franklin, at the junction of the previous line, to Hamburg.
This portion was begun in 1890. Also started was the final section between St. Charles and Machens, at the junction of a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy mainline.

The railroad would not be completed by the railroad, and instead be merged into The Missouri, Kansas and Eastern Railroad in 1892. This railroad would finish the new line.

In 1896, this eastern end would join the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway. These lines formed the eastern end of the system.

The first abandonment came in 1975, when the portion from Moberly to Fayette was abandoned. This line dead ended after 1923, when the MKT sold the line to Hannibal to the Wabash.
In 1978, the rest of the line north of New Franklin would be removed.

In 1982, a small spur near Columbia was converted to trail use. This led the way for the future of the remainder of the MKT line across Missouri.

The MKT line had one fatal flaw. Closely paralleling the Missouri River, it oftentimes flooded out and washed out in critical spots. In October of 1986, it would wash out again.
Officials decided not to return the track to service, and rerouted trains. The railroad between Sedalia and Machens was donated to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. In 1990, the first section of trail would open near Rocheport.

In 1988, the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railway was purchased by Union Pacific. By 1991, Union Pacific cut the line back to Clinton.

Despite a major setback during the Great Flood of 1993, the trail finally opened between St. Charles and Sedalia in 1996, and as far as Clinton in 1999.

The newest section of the trail is from St. Charles to Machens, which opened in 2011. Today, the trail is the nationally recognized Katy Trail, and is immensely popular in the State of Missouri.

This beautiful Parker Pony Truss sits hidden in the woods in New Franklin, Missouri. It crosses Bonne Femme Creek.
Built in 1897, it likely replaced a wooden trestle bridge. This structure is similar to many other pony trusses along the former MKT lines.
The bridge features 7 panels of riveted Parker Pony Truss. It rests on concrete and stone abutments. It is one of the shorter pony truss spans along the Katy Trail.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the common design in Missouri. Despite this, the bridge is still a significant example of a relatively rare type of railroad truss.
The photo above is looking west along the bridge.


Source Type


Build Date Missing A&P Roberts Company plaque
Contractor Missing A&P Roberts Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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