and photographs on loan from many sources, including:
~ Anheuser-Busch Inc., St. Louis MO
~ Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch IA
~ Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis MO
~ Muscatine Art Center, Muscatine IA
have haunted the river every night lately, where I could get a look
at the bridge by moonlight. It is indeed a structure of perfection and
beauty unsurpassable, and I never tire of it."
- Walt Whitman
and approximate geographic mid-point of America's largest waterway is
St. Louis, located at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi
Rivers. The perfect site for a trading post, the city became the center
for fur trappers moving east and west and boatmen moving north and south.
was eventually called the "Gateway City" to the West as millions
of Americans outfitted themselves here before moving on to the California
goldfields, Colorado silver mines, or homesteads on the Santa Fe and
Oregon Trails. Germans started the foundries and breweries, while the
Irish settled in to make wagons for pioneers moving west.
steamboat traffic dominated the Gateway City for over 50 years, America
was being settled east to west, not north to south. Railroad entrepreneurs
were not long deterred by the Mississippi, and the 1874 construction
of the Eads Bridge continued the city's reign as the hub for all traffic
across the center of the nation.
two other modern marvels arose in St. Louis. Local investors took a
chance on a young airplane pilot named Charles Lindbergh, who had grown
up along the banks of the Mississippi. His plane "The Spirit of
St. Louis" was the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean. And since
1968, the Gateway Arch has soared 630 feet above the Mississippi, a
timeless and national symbol of westward expansion.
James Eads designed and built the Eads Bridge - the first tubular steel
structure of its kind - at the exact point where he had been dragged
from the river as a boy after surviving a steamboat explosion.