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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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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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