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Eads Bridge Drawing Collection

Identifier: LH-wua00365

This collection consists of original drawings of Eads Bridge from two separate firms: American Bridge Company and Terminal Railroad Association.

In total, Washington University holds 663 original drawings of the Eads Bridge: 570 drawings from the Terminal Railroad Association and 93 additional drawings from the American Bridge Company. A list of the 93 American Bridge drawings are available here.

Washington University does not hold any corporate records of the American Bridge Company or the Terminal Railroad Association, or project files for other bridges built by either company. In addition, Washington University holds no personnel files related to the construction of the Eads Bridge.


  • 1867-1956


Conditions Governing Access

These drawings are fragile. Digital files of the drawings will be shown to patrons first. For permission to access original drawings, please consult Special Collections Staff.

Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Permission to publish or broadcast any of the 93 drawings from American Bridge Company must be obtained from the American Bridge Company. This information is up-to-date as of November 2013.

American Bridge Company / 1000 American Bridge Way Coraopolis, Pennsylvania 15108 / ATTN: Kadi Camardese, Communications Manager/ Phone: 412-631-1026, email:


13.00 linear feet

9 drawers

Historical Information

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: web site for "Secrets of a Master Builder", a segment of the PBS Series The American Experience

book A history of the St. Louis bridge : containing a full account of every step in its construction and erection, and including the theory of the ribbed arch and the tests of materials : illustrated by numerous wood-cuts and fifty full-page lithographs and artotypes / by C. M. Woodward (1881)


In this inventory, all of the Eads Bridge drawings, from both American Bridge Company and Terminal Railroad Association, have been brought together in order to facilitate their use and are arranged numerically by the Terminal Railroad number.  A separate inventory containing only the 93 American Bridge drawings is available.

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:

Drawing number: Unique number, assigned by W.U. for identification purposes; will have the form "TR-#/AB-#"

Title of drawing: Description of drawing by the original architects; copied verbatim from the drawing.

Scale of drawing

Date of drawing

Signature which appears on the drawing: Usually the name of either James Eads or Walter Katte, resident engineer for the Keystone Bridge Company, which fabricated and erected the bridge's superstructure.

Microfilming note: If the word "Microfilmed" appears, then a microfilm copy exists of this drawing. All the microfilmed drawings are available on one reel of film housed in the University Archives.

Dimensions of drawing

If any of these elements is missing from the description, it means that the information does not appear on the drawing.

Physical Access Requirements

Because of their age and physical condition, the original drawings require advanced notice when visiting the Archives. When possible high resolution digital copies will be shown to researchers instead of original drawings.

Method of Acquisition

The 93 drawings from the American Bridge Company were placed on permanent loan to Washington University and the Museum of Transportation in 1978 by the U.S. Steel Corporation, American Bridge Division. The company is now known as the American Bridge Company, and this company continues to hold ownership of the drawings.

The 570 drawings from the Terminal Railroad Association 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.

Related Materials

Digitized Drawings: All drawings have been digitized and are full resolution images may be viewed on site in the Special Collection Reading Room.  You can view access copies of the digitized drawings online.  High resolution images are available upon request. For questions about access to any of these files, please contact department staff.

Microfilmed Drawings: Reproductions of 208 drawings exist on one reel of microfilm, which is housed in the archives. The reel of microfilmed drawings is available for Interlibrary Loan purposes. Microfilmed drawings are listed on a separate inventory linked here (pdf).

Processing Information

Drawing inventory completed by Catherine Forslund, graduate student worker, in 1997.  Finding aid written and converted to DACS format by University Archives staff.

Eads Bridge Drawing Collection
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 March 11: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Local History Collecting Area

Miranda Rectenwald
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495