Eads Bridge – The First All Steel Bridge in History

If we discuss about the most important structures we have in this world, we cannot deny that the different bridges worldwide are among them. These types of structures are necessary because they connect or link places to make the transportation convenient and faster. Likewise, these bridges feature the longest and even the oldest in history.

Did you know the first ever steel bridge in the world and where it is located? According to the shared information through different trusted references online, the first constructed bridge made of steel is the Eads Bridge and it links St. Louis (Missouri) and East of St. Louis (Illinois). The constructed this historical steel bridge over the Mississippi River and they also recognized it as the first all steel bridges ever constructed in the world back in 1867 as a historic landmark in St. Louis.

Based on the record data published through Wikipedia about this arch-designed bridge, it features a 2 metro link tracks, 4 highway lanes, measures about 6,442 feet long, about 46 feet in width and 88 feet clearance below the water. It was named after the designer himself, James Buchanan Eads who is a popular inventor and a licensed civil engineer who is a native of Indiana in United States. According to the records of his accomplishments, he has over 50 approved patents in his name alone.

The overall design of a bridge varies on the location, demand, function and length it needs. Of course, funding is also an important factor when completing the construction because the designer and the workers cannot think about compromising quality for the safety of the users. This is the exact reason on why they always study the exact location, particularly if the bridge needs to connect two places and passing through a body of water. All the involved people need to evaluate, check and prepare the exact materials and length of time to complete the project.

Over the past years, we had been seeing different designs and constructions of bridges. There are now bridges that exist made of wood materials, steel, concrete and cast iron. They vary in length, size, width and functionality based on the exact location where they construction took place.

If we talk about the history of wooden bridges, records show that even during the ancient time back in 1500 B.C., people have already built these types of connecting bridges. They utilized woods because these are only the primary available materials that time during the prehistoric years. They needed to construct the bridges to pass through rivers and difficult terrains when transporting goods, products and the equipment they need before.

From the information shared through historyofbridges.com, the Roman Empire already built different types of bridges made of wooden materials during the 2nd AD century and in the European region, their architectures are very evident these days because there are still remains in the different areas, particularly in some parts of Switzerland. Despite using woods in building the bridges before, they are sturdy and can level the functionalities of most concrete and steel bridges across the globe.

Going back to the first all steel bridge in history, the Eads Bridge also feature the exclusive cantilever support methods they use in completing the construction. Right before they completed the bridge to connect Missouri and Illinois, records show that about 15 of the total workers died, 77 experienced serious affliction and about 2 persons got disabled permanently. They say that this kind of incident happen caused by the “caisson disease” or decompression sickness during that time.

Despite of this issue, they were able to erect the complete structure of the first ever steel bridge and millions of people had benefit from it for the past many years. Eads Bridge likewise appeared on the postage stamp of $2 that featured the Trans-Mississippi issue in year 1898.

The National Historic Landmark designated this bridge in year 1964 and the National Register of Historic Places recognized it to its list back in October 15, 1966.


Credit images: Built St. Louis & Civil War Trust

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