And the confusion isn't limited to those having a passing curiosity in St. Louis railroad history. Many of us have chuckled as the St. Louis Post- Dispatch has reported that the Illinois Terminal Railway built the Eads Bridge or that the Terminal Railroad of St. Louis owned the McKinley Bridge until purchased by the city of Venice, Illinois. One personal favorite error was when a Post-Dispatch writer noted that since the MacArthur Bridge was closed due to a derailment, all rail traffic would be re-routed via the Mercantile Bridge. (March 2, 2003)
Society member Richard Castagna has written what is to be considered the defining history of the MacArthur Bridge - the reasons for its existence, the planning, construction, financing, and the so called Public Mandate - nothing more than a frenzy whipped up by the area newspapers of the day. A frequent comment heard and read at the time was that St. Louis deserved a Free Bridge - the fact that the bonds were not paid off until 1986 underlies the myth about much in life - nothing is really free.
Imagine, if the monies spent on the bridge over the years - the cash to the contractors, steel suppliers, maintenance, employees, bureaucrats, interest on the bonds, and everything else - had been devoted instead to more civic minded projects such as improving the riverfront, beefing up the City Police or Fire Departments or slimming down a bloated city government.
Of course, the irony in all of this is that the Municipal/MacArthur Bridge, aka the Free Bridge, is now owned by the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, the long time villain in the eyes of many in the St. Louis media.
In this issue the history of the Municipal Bridge is detailed, its operation and the ongoing maintenance written in an easy to read style. Many of us will remember the long standing Gratiot Tower on the west end of the bridge - an anachronism itself as it was owned by the City of St. Louis yet staffed by TRRA employees, but paid from City coffers.
Special thanks goes to those who dug through their photo collections and crafted the photos used - including Joe Collias, Louis Marre, Bill Raia, Bill Peters, and the J.R. Eike glass plate negatives from Thomas Kempland. The special treat in this issue is the St. Louis & O'Fallon story. Thanks to all.
This is the only issue for the 2005 membership year. Your continued support is much appreciated.
The Editor's Page
St. Louis Municipal Bridge railway Company
The St. Louis Municipal Bridge
The Power of Public Mandate:
The Tactics and Negotiations for the Reduction of Railroad Freight Rates and the Construction of the Municipal Bridge in St. Louis, Missouri
Richard M. Castagna
Pages 4-53, with maps, timetables, many B&W photos, two foldouts
A Trip Across the Bridge
A Ride with the Dupo Transfer across the Municipal Bridge
Richard M. Castagna
Pages 54-58, with 5 color photos, 1 B&W photo
The Municipal Bridge Fees
Nothing is Really Free
The Southern Traction Company
What Money Couldn't Buy
Pages 60-66, with B&W and color photos, maps, foldout page
Recollections of a New York Central Terminal Superintendent at East St. Louis, Illinois
"...the GM&O used to tie-up the whole East bank with their train to the south..."
A Tale of Two Towers
Working at Carroll Street or Gratiot Tower Provided a Challenge on a Daily Basis
Richard M. Castagna
Pages 68-73, with B&W and color photos, letters
Federal Railroad Administration Railroad Safety Board
Railroad Employee Accident Investigation - Report No. 19
Manufacturers Railway - East St. Louis, Illinois - August 9, 1973
St. Louis Municipal Bridge Railway - In Color
The Ralston Purina Mill Fire
...a disaster waiting to happen...
Pages 82-86, with foldout
The St. Louis and O'Fallon Railway
Its Commodity Was Coal
"...The Greatest Lawsuit in History..."
So said the attorney pleading before Congress for more funds to widen the Investigation
I Remember the St. Louis and O'Fallon
"...they must have operated under yard rules, as I never saw a timetable..."
Walter W. Simms
Footnotes and Additional Sources
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Last Update: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 by Rich Zellich