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Steel Structure Trivia: Born on the Fourth of July
Posted by Tasha Weiss on June 29, 2012 at 12:22 PM.


Here’s MSC’s June Steel Structure Trivia question! This bridge shares a birthday with the U.S.A. and pioneered many firsts in the industry. Your challenge is to provide the name and location of this steel centurion.


Answer: This shot is of the historic Eads Bridge, which connects St. Louis, Mo. to East St. Louis, Ill. Congratulations to Matthew McCarty, P.E., of Whitman, Requardt & Associates, Baltimore; Jonah Sprehe-Costello of Jacobs Global Buildings, St. Louis; and Christopher Cichon of Sargent & Lundy, Chicago, for being the first three people to supply the correct answer! And thank you to all who participated.


The Eads Bridge, named for its designer, chief construction engineer and visionary champion James Buchanan Eads, officially opened on July 4, 1874. Eads, a self-taught engineer, essentially willed the bridge across the river, dealing with financing, legislative obstruction, balking steel companies and the opposing interests of ferryman, river traffic and rival Chicago. Along with the famous Gateway Arch nearby, it stands as a primary civic symbol of St. Louis.


The Eads Bridge represents a masterpiece of engineering for its time and is notable for the following:


  • First major bridge to cross the Mississippi River
  • First to make extensive use of steel and span bracing
  • First with arch spans of 500 ft
  • First to use cantilevered construction, avoiding falsework that would hinder river traffic
  • First in the U.S. to use the pneumatic caisson for deep underwater pier construction


Last month, Metro Transit, the St. Louis region’s public transportation agency, announced it will restore the Eads Bridge in what is the first extensive rehabilitation of the bridge’s support structure in its 138-year history. The work is needed to protect this national landmark and upgrade an important piece of the region’s $1.8 billion transit infrastructure so that it can continue to serve future generations. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2015. More information is available on Metro Transit’s blog site.


You can read more about this steel centurion in the March 2011 issue of MSC. Click here to view a PDF of the article.


You can test your steel structure knowledge right here on our MSC website on the last Friday of each month, where a new photo of a steel structure will be posted to the Steel in the News section as our weekly “Steel Shot.” Your challenge is to correctly answer the trivia question provided in the news post, based on what you see in the photo. The next question will be posted at 10 a.m. (CDT) on Friday, July 27.



The first three people who supply the correct answer will receive a MSC-branded stainless steel back scratcher! You’ll need it to successfully tackle those pesky itches after the trivia pressure subsides. (And check out that telescoping action! Wow!) Its five-fingered curved design reaches from 7 in. to 20 3/4 in. in length.



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