Don't Drive on the Scariest Bridge in Missouri If You're Easily Spooked
High or long bridges can be very frightening to cross. After all, bridges often bring vehicles into close proximity to one another far above water or plunging depths. Some of these structures are scarier than others, though. Today, we’re going to examine the scariest bridge in Missouri and show what makes this bridge so unpleasant to cross.
What Is the Scariest Bridge in Missouri?
The scariest bridge in Missouri is the old Chain of Rocks Bridge. This structure spans the Mississippi River between Missouri and Illinois. Looking at the statistics about this bridge, it does not seem all that frightening. The structure is not especially high over the Mississippi River, and it is not all that long.
However, the old Chain of Rocks Bridge has a unique design that would have been very frightening to cross when the structure was still used for vehicle traffic. Let’s take a closer look at the things that made crossing this bridge so unpleasant.
What Makes the Chain of Rocks Bridge So Frightening?
The old Chain of Rocks Bridge has a combination of factors that made it scarier than most bridges in Missouri. These factors include a combination of the bridge’s directional change in the middle of its run, its width, and the structure’s length.
Anyone unfamiliar with the bridge may have been confused about the idea of a sudden change in direction in the middle of the structure. The structure is roughly a mile long, but halfway through, the bridge takes a jarring 30-degree turn! When most people think of large bridges that cross rivers, they imagine a straight path. That’s not the case for people driving on the old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
Instead, drivers had to slow down and manage a tough turn. Passing another normal-sized car at that part of the bridge would have been simple for most drivers. However, as a bypass for U.S. Route 66, many tractor-trailers, box trucks, and trucks towing campers passed over this bridge. Since the roadway was only about 24 feet wide, accidents and near-misses that stopped or slowed traffic were common.
The bridge has a total length of 5,353 feet, just over a mile long. The bridge would have been very unpleasant for people who had to creep over the structure in their car, white-knuckling their steering wheels as they passed close by other cars while elevated 60 feet over the Mississippi River. These days, the bridge is not open to traffic, only pedestrians and bicyclists.
About the Chain of Rocks Bridge
Construction began on the old Chain of Rocks Bridge in 1927. Originally, the price tag for this bridge was a hefty $1.25 million. The goal was to form a bridge that was 40 feet wide and passed straight over the Mississippi River.
As workers from both sides of the river built towards the middle, they ran into a bit of a problem. The bridge had to bend because the bedrock under a portion of the river would not have supported the structure’s weight. Also, a straight bridge would have made it difficult for vessels to navigate between the bridge piers and the intake towers for the Chain of Rocks Pumping Station near the bridge.
So, the bridge structure was changed to include a bend to alter its course. Construction ended in August 1928, well over budget. The first cars passed over the bridge in July 1929.
The bridge closed in 1968, and the government planned to demolish it. However, the cost of destroying the bridge outweighed the benefits, and the bridge became a place for pedestrians and bikers.
A newer bridge, called the New Chain of Rocks Bridge, opened in September 1966. This structure is 54 feet wide, 5,411 feet long, and lacks a change in direction halfway through its run. The bridge has outlived its lifespan, though. A new bridge will replace this one soon, continuing to carry I-270 over the Mississippi River.
Where Is the Chain of Rocks Bridge on a Map?
The scariest bridge in Missouri is located in the eastern part of the state, connecting St. Louis, Missouri to a part of Madison County, Illinois. A parking lot is located on the Illinois side of the river on Chouteau Island, allowing people to get out and walk across the bridge. The New Chain of Rocks Bridge is less than half a mile upriver.
What Wildlife Lives Near the Chain of Rocks Bridge?
The old Chain of Rocks Bridge spans the Mississippi River, with one foot in Missouri and the other in Illinois. A variety of different animals live in this part of the country. Let’s start by considering some of the fish that live in the waters beneath the structure.
Some of the most common fish in this area are:
- Largemouth bass
- Channel catfish
- Blue catfish
- Flathead catfish
Many other fish live in this massive river system. Also, many animals live on the land near the structure. Some of the creatures that people crossing the bridge may see are:
- American toad
- Virginia opossum
- Pileated woodpecker
- Boreal chorus frog
- Eastern cottontail
- Great horned owl
- Prairie vole
- American black bear
- Turkey vulture
These animals and many others thrive near St. Louis, Missouri, and Madison County, Illinois.
All in all, the scariest bridge in Missouri is most frightening because of the sudden change in direction halfway across its length. Fortunately, cars no longer pass over this bridge. However, people who want to see an example of a very unique bridge can still walk and bike over the Mississippi River by traversing this structure.