Republican River Pegram Truss Bridge

Historic Pegram Through Truss Bridge over Republican River
Concordia, Cloud County, Kansas

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Name Republican River Pegram Truss Bridge
Built By Union Pacific Railroad
Contractor Edge Moor Bridge Works of Wilmington, Delaware
Currently Owned By Cloud County
Length 460 Feet Total, 200 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 1 Traffic Lane
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pegram Through Truss and Quadrangular Through Truss
Substructure Type Timber Pile
Date Built (Pegram Truss) 1893
Date Built (Approach Trusses) Ca. 1900
Date Erected Ca. 1913
Original Location (Pegram Span) Loup River Bridge; Columbus, Nebraska
Original Location (Approach Spans) Unknown
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Road)
Current Status In Use as a County Road
Significance National Significance
Documentation Date January 2020
In 1873, the Junction City and Fort Kearney built between Junction City and Clay Center. By 1878, further extensions were made to Concordia, a significant railroad junction in the area.
A third and final extension reached Belleville from Lawrenceburg in 1884. The railroad became part of Union Pacific Railroad in 1899.
A short lived and very excess branch line, everything north of Clay Center was abandoned in 1933. The Junction City to Clay Center segment was abandoned in 1964, when Milford Lake was formed.
Today, little remains of the railroad. However, a highly historic truss bridge still remains east of Concordia.

Located a few miles of east of Concordia, this large Pegram Truss bridge across the Republican River is one of the most well known and historic truss bridges in north central Kansas.
Currently in road use, it is the only known Pegram Truss open to automobile traffic. The road here is surpsingly busy, as the author had to move away from the bridge several times while documenting the structure.
The Republican River Pegram Truss is a fine example of a genuine Pegram Through Truss that is still in railroad service. Invented by George Pegram, the design was quite popular with the Union Pacific and Missouri Pacific railroads during the 1890s.
While George H. Pegram was working for Edge Moor Bridge Works, he patented this design in 1885. Unlike a Parker Through Truss, Pegram's design made use of a curved top chord with all members the same length. In addition, vertical compression members were all the same length as well on his designs.
Not long after Pegram patented his design, he left Edge Moor to work for the Missouri Pacific Railroad. The first Pegram Through Truss span was built across the Verdigris River in 1889, for the Missouri Pacific. During his tenure with MP, a great many spans of this design were built, including a 13 span bridge at Ft. Smith, Arkansas; and 20 individual spans constructed in 1890 alone.
By 1893, his reputation was well known, and he left MP to work as Chief Engineer for the Union Pacific Railroad. It seems he likely took advantage of this position to continue constructing his spans. He left UP in 1898.
The true number of Pegram trusses built is unknown. At least one large deck truss bridge was also built in his configuration. While almost all of his trusses have since been demolished, several remain standing.
Of the remaining spans, 11 are still intact in Idaho, two in California, two in Kansas and a single span in each Utah and Washington. Many of the spans were often relocated and reused after main line traffic became too heavy, as is the case here.

Pegram Truss Bridge
Columbus, Nebraska Pegram Truss over the Loup River. Built 1893 for Union Pacific, it is believed the right span was sent to this bridge.

While unconfirmed, it is believed that the main truss here was originally located at Columbus, Nebraska; built in 1893 to cross the Loup River. A second Pegram Truss from that location is known to have been moved to Minneapolis, Kansas; approximately 40 miles south of this location.
The Columbus bridge was replaced by the present double track structure in 1908. It is unknown when this span may have ended up here, as the Minneapolis Pegram Truss was moved to that location in 1913. The author believes the bridge here was erected around the same time. It also may be possible that this span is not from Columbus, but the matching dates, designs and situations seem to strongly suggest it is indeed from Columbus. While the National Register nomination suggests the bridge was built here in this configuration, it almost certainly was not.
The Republican River Bridge consists of a main 200 foot long Pegram Truss Span. This truss follows a standard design for a Pegram Truss, including arched portals, pinned connections and nine panels. In addition, the span is approached by a 130 foot long riveted Quadrangular Through Truss on either side. The entire bridge sits on timber substructures.
While the original location of the Pegram is believed to be known, the author is at a loss regarding the two approach spans. These spans feature typical details for Union Pacific Quadrangular through truss spans, such as the arched portal bracing. Not many Quadrangular spans exist in Kansas outside of the Topeka-Denver main line along I-70. In general, the spans were popular along some railroads throughout the United States, but not all.
It is possible these spans may have come from the Topeka-Denver line, or perhaps the Kansas City-Topeka line, which was rebuilt in 1906 for double track. Much of the Nebraska mainline was reconstructed around 1908 as well, leaving the original location of these spans very unknown. Regardless, the spans appear to date to around 1900.
Unlike 1890s quadrangular trusses, the members on the Quadrangular spans here follow a design nearly identical to the Ca. 1900-1902 spans along the Topeka-Denver line, indicating these spans are certainly not as old as 1893. Unfortunately, no plaques or any evidence of plaques could be found on these spans. More research is currently ongoing for the entire bridge.
After UP abandoned this line in the 1930s, the bridge was converted to road use, where it currently serves 190th Road. A decently used county road, the bridge is beginning to show numerous issues. The deck, constructed of asphalt, has begun to fall apart. The asphalt was applied over some boards, which appear to sit on the original railroad ties. In addition, the wooden substructures appear to be in poor condition.
Because the bridge is such a landmark, and on the National Register of Historic Places, this bridge should be rehabilitated, including the replacement of the substructures with newer concrete or steel structures, and a new deck. As part of the deck work, the author suggests removing the wooden railroad ties, wooden boards and asphalt; and replacing with either a lightweight concrete deck in a metal pan or a new timber deck.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair to poor condition. Fortunately, the bridge is considered a landmark, and should be preserved for years to come. This area is also excellent for historic bridges, as an abandoned CB&Q bridge sits a short distance upstream.

The author has ranked this bridge as being nationally significant, due to the very limited numbers of these spans remaining.
The photo above is an overview of the bridge. The photo below is a photo of the builders plaque.

Republican River Railroad Bridges
Upstream CB&Q Republican River Bridge
Downstream Clyde Rail Bridge

Detail Photos


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Builder Plaque

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