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Union Bridge Company

Biography of Union Bridge Company (1884-1900)

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Name Union Bridge Company
Formed 1884
Defunct 1900
Preceeded by Central Bridge Company of Buffalo, New York
Kellogg and Maurice of Athens, Pennsylvania
Succeeded by American Bridge Company
Headquarters New York City
Key People Thomas C. Clarke (Co-Founder)
Charles A. MacDonald (Co-Founder)
Railroads Served Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway
Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Chicago Great Western Railway
Illinois Central Railroad
New York Central Railway
Pennsylvania Railroad
St. Louis-San Francisco Railway
Union Pacific Railroad
Likely Others
Shop Location Athens, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York (Closed Ca. 1890)

Union Bridge Company was formed in 1884 with the combination of the Central Bridge Company of Buffalo, New York; and Kellogg & Maurice of Athens, Pennsylvania.
The Central Bridge Company was organized in 1876, and purchased the former shops of Kellogg Bridge Company. This Kellogg Bridge Company was founded by Charles Kellogg in 1870. Because there were two individuals named Charles Kellogg, it is important to distinguish this Kellogg originally had an operation in Detroit from 1857 until 1863. After that, he was superintendent of the Detroit Bridge & Iron Works until 1867. Oddly enough, he joined Thomas C. Clarke to form Kellogg, Clarke and Company in Philadelphia, with the backing of Samuel Reeves of Phoenix Iron Works. After this partnership dissolved in 1870, Kellogg moved to Buffalo to build various iron bridges at the aforementioned Kellogg Bridge Company. The Central Bridge Company does not seem to have any remaining bridges today.
The other Charles Kellogg seems to have spent most of his time in Athens, Pennsylvania. He began building wooden railroad bridges around 1865, and joined Charles Maurice in 1871 to form Kellogg and Maurice. The shops of this company were located in Athens, and this company seems to have built a number of railroad bridges, including large spans over the Mississippi River at St. Charles. Other, smaller bridges continue to exist in the Cincinnati area.


Poughkeepsie Bridge
Likely the most well known Union Bridge Company project, located across the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, New York. Built in 1888, this bridge is now the iconic Walkway over the Hudson.

In 1884, these two companies were merged by Thomas C. Clarke and Charles A. MacDonald. Clarke had previously worked with the Charles Kellogg from Detroit and Buffalo, before joining Samuel Reeves to form Clarke, Reeves & Company. This company built a wide variety of railroad bridges, many of which still exist. Macdonald had previously been with smaller companies, and it is not known if they built bridges.
With this considerable experience, Union Bridge Company operated two plants, including the former Kellogg & Maurice plant at Athens, and the former Kellogg/Central Bridge plant at Buffalo. The company appears to have almost exclusively built railroad bridges.
During the mid to late 1880s, the popularity of the company took of. Major projects began coming in, such as producing dozens of small identical Pratt Through Trusses for the Illinois Central Railroad and its subsidiaries. Many of these spans continue to exist. In addition, the construction of the Frisco Bridge at Fort Smith, Arkansas (1885) and the Susquehanna River Bridge at Harrisburg continued to build on the success.
Major turnover occurred in 1887, with both Kellogg and Clarke leaving the company. Clarke would retire, but Kellogg would establish the Elmira Bridge Company
During the late 1880s, work began on much larger projects. Large bridges were constructed at Nebraska City, Nebraska (1887); Poughkeepsie, New York (1888); the Young's High Bridge in Kentucky (1889); Cairo, Illinois (1889), and for the St. Louis Merchants Exchange Bridge (1890). In addition, Union Bridge Company built several major spans for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe expansion from Kansas City to Chicago.


Cairo Bridge
Illinois Central Bridge over the Ohio River (1889). Replaced from 1949-1952.

Sometime in the early 1890s, the Buffalo shops were closed, and all production centralized at Athens. It is unknown what happened to the Buffalo shops after the closure.
For many of the largest bridges, engineer George S. Morrison was hired as Chief Engineer and worked directly with Union Bridge Company. Mississippi River bridges at Alton (1894), St. Louis (1890), Memphis (1892) and Winona (1891) all used Morrison, as well as Leavenworth (1893) and Nebraska City (1887) over the Missouri River and Cairo (1889) over the Ohio River.
While it is likely that there are many more Union Bridge Company spans out there, the most well known structures are the massive bridges over the major rivers. While some still remain, most of these structures have since been replaced.
During the late 1890s, Union again found new ground in constructing large girder viaducts, and large bridges making use of simple truss spans. It is also believed that Union may have fabricated the main span of the original Kate Shelley Bridge.
In 1900, Union was one of 24 companies immediately merged to form American Bridge Company, with four other companies added to the conglomerate later. The plant was closed in 1907, and the property sold.

A sampling of plaques can be seen below. It appears that Union Bridge Company had two distinct types of plaque. The first is a square shape with rounded edges, produced at the Athens plant. Other bridges by Kellogg & Maurice suggest this plaque shape was taken directly from that company. The second shape uses a rectangular shape with a flat bottom, and a decorative top. These plaques are found on bridges produced at the Buffalo plant. A variation exists with a rounded top, and another variation exists with a rounded bottom as well.


Union Bridge Company plaque
Plaque on a Milwaukee Road bridge that was originally built at Kellogg, Minnesota. This span now is located at Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Union Bridge Company plaque
Plaque on an Illinois Central Bridge at Correctionville, Iowa.


Selected Works
Abandoned Little Sioux River Bridge #4 (Correctionville, Iowa)
Belleville Trail Bridge (Belleville, Wisconsin)
Clairemont Ave Railroad Bridge (Eau Claire, Wisconsin)
Merchants Bridge (St. Louis, Missouri)

Citations

Source Type

Source

Company History American Bridge Building Companies 1840-1900 by Victor C. Darnell


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