Edgebrook Bridge, Maplewood’s Lost Engineering Marvel

Edgebrook Bridge was once the longest steel streetcar bridge in pick one: A. St. Louis County. B. Missouri. C.The United States. D. The Western Hemisphere. E. The World. or F. The Universe.

Edgebrook Bridge which once connected Bartold Ave. in Maplewood to Summit Ave. in Webster Groves was 903 feet long.  It was built in 1896 for the streetcars of the Howard Electric Line whose three principal owners lived in Webster Groves.  Their names were Lucien Blackmer, James Case and Samuel Kennard.

So you suspect that this “Engineering Marvel” hook in the title is just a bit of community booster hyperbole, well how about this.  According to Jim Baker in his fascinating book “King Trolley and the Suburban Queens” when Edgebrook Bridge was built it was the longest steel street railway bridge in the world. (While E is the correct answer, I imagine F is too.  How could you tell?)

Construction of the bridge required 400 tons of steel to span not only Deer Creek but also the Missouri Pacific right-of-way without touching it.  Budgeted at $50,000 the Kohen Iron Works Co. of Detroit brought it in at $35,000.  It was 60 feet high and tested at 720,000 pounds.

The bridge lasted longer than the streetcars did.  After the streetcars stopped using it in 1949, it was converted to bus use.  That stopped in 1968 and the bridge was demolished in 1974.  Too bad.  It would have been an awesome attraction to our bike riders.

Folks interested in this story should by all means pick up Mr. Baker’s book where it is covered in more detail and with different photographs than the ones seen here.  His book also includes a wonderful chapter on the streetcar era in Maplewood.

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Ian Storm December 12, 2012 at 01:43 PM
Hi Doug - Thanks for the great post. Where did the streetcar go once it crossed over into Webster? Did it continue down Summit? Thinking about that area, that may be the only street that seems wide enough.
Doug Houser December 12, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Ian, I'm certain that's true though I'm not entirely sure what route it took after that. Lockwood, I imagine. Mr. Baker's book may shed more light on that.
Sheila December 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM
Looking at the current Google map, it appears the bridge may have come off from the current Dutton Ave, which connects to Sutton Ave.
Doug Houser December 13, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Sheila, I'm not sure what you're looking at but I know exactly the route the line took through Maplewood. It left the Sutton Loop, turned west on Flora, crossed Big Bend and Laclede Station Road and then veered SW on what is now Bartold west of Hanley and then crossed the Deer Creek Valley via the Edgebrook bridge. At the time of the electric streetcars Hanley went no farther south than Manchester. There is no street named Dutton in Maplewood.
Sheila December 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Sorry Doug, that's what happens when you try to cook and look at maps at the same time. I got Summit and Dutton confused. Dutton is a dead end street in Webster that connects to Marshall and looks like it may have connected with Summit at one time. It ends in a hill overlooking Deer Creek park and seems to line up with Bartold on the other side of the park and tracks. I always wondered why there was a street with no houses, but that would explain it if it were originally a bridge entrance! I will have to go look for the book at the library, thanks!
Joellen G. McDonald December 31, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Doug, I believe this is the bridge that many a teenager illegally drove over under cover of night terrified that a bus might show up going the opposite way. Guess who would have needed to back up? I am not telling you how I know about this... Joellen
Linda E Koziacki January 17, 2013 at 07:09 PM
Doug, As a child I use to climb on the bridge and walk on it> It had railway ties for the buses tires so it was scary to walk across and see the ground and creek below, what wonderful memories.
Doug Houser January 17, 2013 at 07:47 PM
Thanks Joellen and Linda for the two great stories. Al Beletz from Maplewood tells of a friend who bet he could jump from the bridge to the ground below. It was from about the height of a utility pole according to Al. His friend hung from the trestle and survived the drop but walked funny for quite awhile.
Bobb Johns April 23, 2013 at 07:13 PM
Just a trivia moment -- back when I rode a bicycle all over the place (1965), I recall the pavement deteriorating on Summit and Lockwood Avenues (outer lanes concrete; inner lanes tar/blacktop); could see the tracks and brickwork pavers. The outbound cars ran from the bridge out Summit (and a short right-of-way) to Lockwood; turned right. Then they ran to the Rock Hill loop; then on a private right-of-way/median in Lockwood all the way to downtown Kirkwood (Adams Avenue and Kirkwood Boulevard). At that point, they intersected with the Kirkwood-Ferguson line out of Clayton. The line ran on out Clay Avenue to Woodbine Avenue; and to (I believe) a bus loop at Woodbine and Magnolia(?). At one time I hear they then ran all the way out to the Meramec Highlands area out Big Bend west of I-270 . . . . .. .
Doug Houser April 24, 2013 at 01:39 AM
Bobb, Thanks for adding to the understanding of those of us who arrived after the streetcar era had ended. I appreciate your remembrance.


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