Begun in 1867 and completed in 1874, the Eads Bridge was named
after its designer, James Buchanan Eads. It was the first bridge
to span the Mississippi at St. Louis, the first bridge to make
significant of steel, and one of the first bridges in the U.S. to
make use of pneumatic caissons (the caissons sunk for the bridge
are still among the deepest ever). It was also the first bridge
to be built entirely using cantilever construction methods,
avoiding the need for falsework, and the first bridge designed so
that any part could be removed for repair or replacement. The
bridge is now a National Historic Landmark.
For more information on the bridge and James Eads, see the web site for "Secrets of a Master Builder", a segment of the PBS Series The American Experience
Digital reproductions exist for all of the drawings, however most are not available online. You can view a selection of the digitized drawings online. Patrons can also view all digitized files while visiting Univeristy Archives.
There are 663 drawings in the collection; they came to Washington University in two groups.
570 drawings were placed on deposit at Washington University in 1974 by the Terminal Railroad Association. A deed of gift turning over these drawings to Washington University was executed in June 1997.
The remaining 93 drawings are owned by the American Bridge Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and are on permanent loan to Washington University and the Museum of Transportation. They are housed at Washington University.
Washington University holds 663 original drawings of the Eads Bridge. We do not have corporate records of the Terminal Railroad Association, or the American Bridge Company, nor we have personnel files related to the building of the Eads Bridge.
Each of the drawings is individually numbered and described. No attempt has been made to organize the drawings by date, portion of the bridge covered, etc. The following information is given for each drawing.
If any of these elements is missing from the description, it means that the information does not appear on the drawing.
No restrictions on access. Because of their age and physical condition, the original drawings require advanced notice when visiting the Archives. All digital files are also available for viewing on-site.
Microfilmed Drawings: Reproductions of 208 drawings exist on one reel of microfilm, which is housed in the University Archives. The reel of microfilmed drawings is available for ILL purposes. View the inventory of microfilmed drawings