Maplewood History: Edgebrook Bridge – Maplewood’s Lost Engineering Marvel

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.

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 other photographs than the ones seen here. His book also includes a wonderful chapter on the streetcar era in Maplewood.

This article first appeared on the Maplewood Patch website in 2012.  Doug Houser

This is the earliest photo of the Edgebrook bridge that I have found. Courtesy of Linda Kosiacki.

This is the earliest photo of the Edgebrook bridge that I have found. Courtesy of Linda Kosiacki. Forgive me Linda if I’ve misspelled your last name.

Undated photo of the Edgebrook bridge. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

Undated photo of the Edgebrook bridge. Courtesy of the Maplewood Public Library.

The view is towards Maplewood from the Webster Groves side. Courtesy of Dan Walper at Citizen's National Bank.

The view is towards Maplewood from the Webster Groves side. Courtesy of Dan Walper at Citizen’s National Bank.

After the bus conversion took place. From Vintage St. Louis - a Facebook Page.

After the bus conversion took place. This location was just west of the present day Deer Creek Park. From Vintage St. Louis – a Facebook Page.

Seen here from the Maplewood side. Also from Vintage St. Louis.

Seen here from the Maplewood side. Also from Vintage St. Louis.

This one is from the Maplewood Public Library.

This one is from the Maplewood Public Library.

These remains are not of the Edgebrook bridge but of another that was on the same line. it was just west of Laclede Station road and north of the Metrolink Station. If i remember correctly I bought this for a couple of bucks online. It is now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

These remains are not of the Edgebrook bridge but of another that was on the same line. It was just west of Laclede Station Road and north of the Metrolink Station. If I remember correctly I bought this for a couple of bucks online. I remember seeing these remains sometime after I moved to Maplewood in 1975.  The foundation was made of massive rustic limestone rocks which are now probably 20 feet underground.  The image is now in the collection of the Maplewood Public Library.

A section of map from the oh so useful 1909 St. Louis County Plat book. The location of the building belonging to the big Bend Quarry can be seen at the lower right. With the exception of a small section of Bartold and Pacific nearly all of the streets and buildings shown no longer exist.

A section of map from the oh so useful 1909 St. Louis County Plat book. The location of the building belonging to the Big Bend Quarry can be seen at the lower right. With the exception of a small section of Bartold and Birch Road nearly all of the streets and buildings shown no longer exist.  The property at the extreme upper left is now occupied by the Autohaus BMW dealer.

The above information was found by Sherman Shewmaker at this location. The Google Book:  RAILROAD AND WAREHOUSE COMMISSIONERS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, YEAR ENDING JUNE 3,0 1906.  Way to go, Sherman.

The above information was found by Sherman Shewmaker at this location. The Google Book: RAILROAD AND WAREHOUSE COMMISSIONERS OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1906. Way to go, Sherman.

Sherman also asks where did the name Edgebrook come from?  this photo is the only evidence I've seen yet that htere once was a community by the bridge called Edgebrook.  That's an E on these fellows uniforms as the back of the photo clearly shows.  thanks again to Linda Kociacki for this image.  (I spelled her name differently this time.  I've got a 50/50 chance of getting it right.  Maybe.)

Sherman also asks where did the name Edgebrook come from? This photo is the only evidence I’ve seen yet that there once was a community by the bridge called Edgebrook. That’s an E on these fellows uniforms as the back of the photo clearly shows. Thanks again to Linda Kociacki for this image. (I spelled her name differently this time. I’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting it right. Maybe.)

The back of the previous photo.  Thanks, Linda.

The back of the previous photo. Thanks, Linda.

See also:

 

14 thoughts on “Maplewood History: Edgebrook Bridge – Maplewood’s Lost Engineering Marvel

  1. My bus went over this bridge daily, from Richmond Heights to Ursuline in Glendale. Beautiful, slightly scary ride.

  2. spent my high school days living in Maplewood and dearly love the area….many fond memories. Thanks for your efforts…much appreciated
    Theresa Rose B

  3. Doug – Great story and photos on the old trolley bridge. That span played such a big role in my boyhood in the 1970s. My friends and I would ride our bikes to it from Brentwood and clamber all over it, dropping rocks onto the trains that passed beneath us. (It was no longer in use by that time.)
    We would cross it and then explore Webster Groves. And if we had a few nickels in her pocket, we would visit the little convenience store at Marshall and Sutton and buy freeze pops or Bub’s Daddy chewing gum.
    I only wish I had the foresight at the time to snag some of the historic artifacts that were part of the structure, especially the light fixtures!
    Best,
    Paul Hampel

  4. Doug, you absolutely raise my respect for Maplewood and its long-time citizens with each historical story you write. I hope all of us can continue to preserve this great town.

  5. I hung out on that Bridge in the 70’s, of course it was the Buss Bridge, but the line extended to Newport Ave in Webster, it was still a buss route and you couldn’t drive on that portion of the road.. Kinda like a railroad

    • Mr. Butler, it is always nice to hear from you folks who have first hand knowledge of the area. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your memories.

  6. Doug, I notice on the map in your article an “Edgebrook Station”. Is this on the Pacific Railroad, and, if so, is this the same as the “Laclede Station” I have been trying to find a picture of on the Pacific Railroad? Is there an extant picture of this “Edgebrook Station”? Did this depot get its name from the bridge, or is there / was there a community with this name?

    • Hi Sherman, you have since provided part of the answer to your questions with your followup email to me showing that Edgebrook Station was a stop on the MoPac line. I’ll try to post your research above. The Edgebrook station on the 1909 map is nearly in the same location as I surmise the Laclede Station was. The name was no longer in use by 1909 or even earlier, 1906 as your information shows. I have found no photos of Edgebrook Station or Laclede Station but I’d love to do so. The origin of the names Edgebrook as well as Laclede were taken from adjoining communities or possibly developments (as was Maplewood).

  7. Thanks again, Doug.

    I’ve seen it before, but I love that picture from the Webster Groves side, mostly because that big brick house is still there. Now if you ever go to that little upper annex of Deer Creek Park, you can just gaze across the expanse and picture this bridge there.

    • You’re absolutely correct, Ian. The slope where the bridge touched ground in Webster is now a popular spot for sledding in the winter. I always appreciate your comments.

  8. Wow – another bridge which connected Maplewood to other towns. As you know, Doug, I was fascinated researching the Fyler Avenue bridge which connected Southwest City to Maplewood, a picture of which is in the book ‘Kennedy Music.’ What is the name of the book you mentioned with picture of Edgebrook Bridge and do you know where to find it?

    • Hey Wanda, the name of the book is “King Trolley and the Suburban Queens” by Jim Baker. Sorry I don’t have the page number. Good to hear from you. Thanks for your comment.