BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 158: Tribute to James Baughn


This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Kansas City and to this unique landmark, the ASB Bridge. While the city has many unique historic structures to choose from, this one stands out as being the bridge you must absolutely see when bridgehunting, period. The bridge was built in 1911 by a combination of Armour Packing CompanySwift & Company, and Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad. It’s a double-decker bridge featuring an upper deck used for highway traffic and a lower deck used for rail traffic. The most stunning is its vertical lift span of the lower deck, which lifts up towards the bottom of the upper deck. You can see how the span lifts in the video below:

This unique mechanism was part of the design introduced by engineer John Alexander Low Waddell in 1909 and is the only bridge of its kind that has it. While the upper deck has long since been removed with the replacement bridge having been built next to this span in 1986, the bridge is still being used for rail traffic. It is owned by BNSF Railways. The pic was taken during the Historic Bridge Weekend in 2011 where James and I (as well as other pontists) saw the bridge. While we never saw the lift span in action, we were treated to a train crossing the span. Unlike our trains in Germany, American trains are usually 5-10 kilometers long, and one has to wait just as many minutes as with the train’s length because most trains run at a maximum speed of 60 mph (100 mph). It was nevertheless a treat to see the structure in its awe and beauty. While I took many pictures of the bridge, this one was taken by Mr. Baughn, who created a detailed database of the bridge on his website shortly after our conference. You can find it here. In 1996, the remaining part of the ASB was designated by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. It is elgible for the National Register and it is hoped that this bridge will be added in the near future. With many bridges disappearing in the Kansas City area, this bridge deserves to be kept in its rightful place and deserves to be a tourist attraction.



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