Frisco Railroad Bridge

Listed among the Top 10 Bridges worldwide
in the Nov. 2010 issue of Train magazine
"70 Great Railroad Engineering Feats: Bridges & Viaducts"
Designed by George Morison

"4887 feet long with a 791foot longest span, and 109 feet above the Mississippi River; opened 1892 near Memphis, Tenn. The bridge was built entirely of open-hearth steel, which had just been developed at the time, and was then the most southern bridge crossing the Mississippi River."
Contributed by Bill Strong
This view of the Frisco bridge under construction also shows the St. Louis Iron Mountain and Southern railway transfer ferry S. D. Barlow from the west bank of the Mississippi River,11/12/1891.

Contributed by Bill Strong
These drawings are from the original plans for the bridge and its support structures. Construction information.

Contributed by Bill Strong
These engines were involved in the celebration for the opening of the Frisco Bridge.

Contributed by Bill Pollard
A ticket to the grand opening celebration of the "Frisco" bridge.

Contributed by Bill Pollard
Coupon for a Iron Mountain passenger to ride a train across the "Frisco" bridge before the Harahan bridge was built.

Contributed by Bill Pollard
Coupon for a walk across the "Frisco" bridge before the Harahan bridge was built.

Frisco Museum's "All Aboard" Vol. 8 No. 1 1993
article on "The Great Frisco Bridge"

Contributed by Bill Pollard
From a stereoscope card, photographed and published by B.W. Kilburn (Littleton, NH) and copyright 1901.

Bill Pollard Collection
This black & white postcard of the Kansas City & Memphis (Frisco) bridge was postmarked 1907. The reverse of this card has this description: "Memphis bridge, which was opened to the public May 12, 1892, is the only one spanning the Mississippi south of St. Louis. It is built of steel, of the cantilever variety, and is 1895 feet long. The central span is the second longest of any bridge of its kind in America, measuring 790.5 feet between the centers of the supports. The bridge cost $3,000,000."

Contributed by Bill Pollard
Kansas City and Memphis Railway and Bridge Company pass between Memphis and Bridge Junction. Reverse is pretty standard, except for note that pass must be used concurrently with pass from another RR.

Bill Pollard Collection
This image is from a pre-Harahan bridge era. In 1892 when this bridge was erected, the largest locomotives were 4-6-0s and 2-8-0s. This bridge in later years had weight restrictions due to its construction. The heaviest steam locomotives allowed to operate across this bridge were the 4100-class USRA heavy 2-8-2s. The heavier 4200-class 2-8-2s, all classes of 4-8-2s, and the 2-10-2s were never allowed to operate across this bridge in steam days. When these heavier engines were needed east of Memphis, they were either drained of their boiler water and/or towed across the MP Harahan Bridge. After considerable strengthening, SLSF 1522 operated across this bridge on its excursion trip in 1994. Strengthening continues but at a pace slower than the increase in weight limits on freight cars, weights of locomotives, and horsepower ratings of modern diesel locomotives.

Bill Pollard Collection
This early view of the Frisco Bridge shows the toll houses which were part of the original design.

Phil Gosney Collection
Contributed by Eric Fleet

Frisco Employee Magazine Sept. 1926 Springfield, MO Public Library Collection

James G. La Vake photo from the Trains magazine collection.
After the portal towers were removed, this shanty was placed on the foundation of the south tower. Here a Frisco passenger train is entering Memphis behind E-8 "Big Red". Note the 10 mph speed limit on the bridge. In later days there was a special instruction that trains were not to be started on the bridge, if they stopped, the train had to back off to prevent vibrating the bridge and causing it to fail. It is being reinforced to help it hold up to the heavy loads of today's trains.

Photo by Mike Condren
Frisco Bridge on August 2, 1992, the 100th anniversary of its opening.

On the return trip from New Orleans in Feb 2013, we stayed at a Hampton Inn in east Memphis across from Corky's so we could get a Bar-B-Que fix. I did not pay enough attention in the room at first and THEN I spotted the picture over the desk in room 215, a shot down the Frisco bridge! On our way to New Orleans in Dec. 2013, we stayed in room 214 and found the same view over the desk.
Photo by Mike Condren

Photo by Mike Condren
Memphis railroad bridges from the west side of the Mississippi River.

Selected pages from the BNSF Springfield Division Timetable #6, effective 1/17/2007, including the Special Instructions for operating a train over the Memphis Frisco Bridge.

The following sequence of photos is from the Arkansas side of
the Mississippi River and was taken by J. Parker Lamb in 1954.

While the MP freight continues east on the Harahan Bridge in the background, a Frisco freight, also led by a FA1 is heading north over the Frisco bridge. This unit will not retain its ALCo 244 engine for long before an EMD 567 engine takes its place.

Note how the roadway for the Harahan bridge is woven between the towers of both the Frisco and Harahan bridges.

This view shows a 5-unit consist, F3A-F9B-F3B-F7B-F7A on the Frisco bridge westbound.

Reconstruction of bridge by BNSF

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