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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography

The Best Of The Mississippi
River Bridge Photographs


Mississippi River Bridge
The Memphis-Arkansas Memorial Bridge carries Interstate highway I-55 over the Mississippi River at Memphis. This mile-long structure with its peaks and valleys and lattice work of metal beams makes it a textbook example of a big metal monster bridge. Despite its huge size and its location on the Memphis riverfront, this bridge is somewhat hidden from view. Two very large railroad bridges shield the I-55 bridge from the downtown and riverfront park view, and there are few locations to view the bridge from downriver.

Mississippi River Bridge
Nothing says "Memphis!" quite the way the giant M shape of the Interstate highway I-40 Hernando De Soto Bridge leading to downtown Memphis. From a technology standpoint, this bridge has it all, including a metal truss, arches, reinforced concrete, steel girders, and suspension cables. Nowhere else on the muddy Mississippi do you find this mix of construction methodologies.

Mississippi River Bridge
This is a very dramatic view of the river bridge near the sleepy little river town of Chester, Illinois, taken in the early evening just as the sun has set behind the river bluffs.

Mississippi River Bridge
The massive Merchants Bridge near Saint Louis has two parallel railroad tracks allowing two trains to cross the river at the same time. The bridge was originally built in 1890 to break the TRRA river crossing monopoly in the Saint Louis area, but its owners ran into financial problems soon after the bridge opened, and the bridge ended up falling into the hands of the TRRA.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Old Chain Of Rocks Bridge just north of Saint Louis was once the river crossing for the famous Route 66. The key feature of this bridge is the bend in the bridge at mid-channel. This old bridge sat abandoned for many years, until it was brought back to life as a pedestrian and bicycle bridge.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Centennial Bridge is a signature span for the Quad Cities area. The five humps of its massive arches contribute to a bridge profile that is perhaps the most graceful looking of all the bridges that span the mighty river.

Mississippi River Bridge
The historic Julien Dubuque Bridge spans the Mississippi River at Dubuque, Iowa. The icy water and the shadows cast by the low morning sun add drama to an already very interesting bridge. The bridge itself carries a traffic load that is well beyond its design capacity. As a result, the states of Iowa and Illinois are in discussions to develop a plan to solve the traffic problem. Highway officials are considering adding a twin span or building an additional bridge a mile or two downstream.

Mississippi River Bridge
The US-18 Marquette-Joliet Bridge is an early example of a tied-arch bridge, a design that has been repeated several times on the Mississippi River, and rivers that feed the Mississippi such as the Missouri River and the Minnesota River. This bridge was built with defective steel, which required a major retrofit to the structure shortly after it opened.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Robert Street Bridge in Saint Paul is a very rare example of a rainbow arch, the style of bridge where the traffic deck runs through the middle of the arch. This 1926 era structure was extensively refurbished in the late 1980s. Hopefully, that will allow the bridge to serve for another 60 years before it needs additional major repairs.

Mississippi River Bridge
This lift bridge was built in 1913 by the Chicago Great Western Railroad. The CGW was bought out by the C&NW, which was bought out by the Union Pacific. The bridge is threaded through the Robert Street Bridge. The north end of the bridge was raised 16 feet to bring it up to the level of the Saint Paul Union Depot tracks when the depot was built in 1925. There are several lift bridges still in operation on the Mississippi River. Some of the lift bridges were converted from swing spans, but this bridge started its life as a lift span.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Intercity Bridge between Minneapolis and Saint Paul is a great example of the giant concrete arch bridges that were built in the Twin Cities area in the first half of the 20th century. It crosses an especially wide and deep part of the Mississippi River which is backed up behind Lock & Dam #1. Locals call this the Ford Bridge or Ford Parkway Bridge due to its proximity to the Ford Motor Company assembly plant.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Interstate highway I-94 Dartmouth Bridge is the busiest bridge over the Mississippi River carrying over 160,000 vehicles per day. The bridge was forced into double duty after the collapse of the I-35W bridge in 2007 and 2008 as the river crossing for the I-35W detour. The bridge sits in a very photogenic location with the downtown Minneapolis skyline to the left and the University of Minnesota building complex to the right.

Mississippi River Bridge
The new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge over the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis is nothing short of stunning when lit up at night. The computer controller on the innovative lighting system can produce any color in the spectrum, but the bridge is normally bathed in a light blue glow that makes the structure look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Mississippi River Bridge
Built by railroad tycoon James J. Hill, the Stone Arch Bridge remains the centerpiece of the Saint Anthony Falls area near downtown Minneapolis. The bridge carried passenger trains into the Union Depot for nearly 100 years before passenger rail left the two Twin Cities downtowns. After sitting unused for over a decade, the bridge was refurbished and reopened as a pedestrian and bicycle path, one with absolutely spectacular views of the falls area and the historic milling district.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Third Avenue Bridge crosses the Mississippi River on the upstream side of Saint Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis. It was taken during the golden hour just before sunset, with the bridge bathed in yellowish sunlight while the buildings in the skyline are in the shade. This photo won the 2012 Othmar H. Ammann Award for best photo.

Mississippi River Bridge
If forced to choose just one favorite bridge over the Mississippi River, the Ferry Street Bridge in Anoka would be my choice. This 1,000 foot long concrete arch bridge has style and grace from its art deco era roots that is unmatched by any other structure over the great river. It is frightening to recall that this bridge nearly did not survive. It was in such bad shape that it was closed to traffic for several years while highway officials debated what to do with this structure. Thankfully, they decided to restore this bridge, resulting in a bridge that is wider, safer, and stronger than when it was originally built.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Old Sauk Rapids Bridge is an example of the deck truss style of bridge that has a lattice of metal beams under the traffic deck rather than above the traffic deck. This style of bridge looks routine from the traffic level, but becomes very interesting when seen from the side or under the bridge. All three examples of the deck truss bridge that once spanned the mighty Mississippi were removed in 2007 and 2008, in part due to the bad reputation assigned to these bridges following the I-35W bridge disaster, including this bridge.

Mississippi River Bridge
This prestressed concrete girder bridge is a typical modern design for a bridge over a small or medium-sized river in Minnesota. This design is used across the state, including nearly all of the newer highway bridges over the Mississippi River in the headwaters region. This example crosses the river at Palisade, having recently replaced an old truss bridge. While losing yet another truss bridge is hard to take, this bridge will easily last a century or more.

Mississippi River Bridge
The Jacobson Bridge is a true slice of northern Minnesota. We have the sleepy country village, the local fishing hole, the run down bar, the resort in the background, and cabins on either side of the highway. It sure beats the hustle and bustle of the big city 150 miles to the south. You betcha it does.

Mississippi River Bridge
This is where it all begins for the Mississippi River 2,552 river miles north of the Gulf of Mexico at Lake Itasca in Minnesota. This 44-foot wide dam is capped with stones forming a walking path across the river. Crossing the river at this location is a rite of passage for all Minnesota children, something that everyone should have the chance to do at least once in their lifetime.

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2012, all rights reserved.
For further information, contact: john@johnweeks.com