Rails Across the Mississippi: A History of the St. Louis Bridge

Overview

An absorbing tale of grand dreams, shady politics, daring engineering experiments, greed, ambition, and westward expansion, Rails across the Mississippi is the first book-length history since 1881 to document the planning, financing, and construction of the first bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, a national engineering landmark completed in 1874 that is now known as the Eads Bridge. Robert W. Jackson takes a fresh look at this monumental project, dispersing the ...
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2001 1st Printing Hardcover, royal 8vo, illustrated, 265 pages. An X-Library, with minimal library markings. A fine, solid, tight and clean copy in a like dust jacket.

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0252026802 USED BOOK in good condition| No supplements| Normal wear to cover, edges, spine, corners, and pages | Writing / highlighting | Inventory stickers | Satisfaction ... guaranteed! Read more Show Less

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Overview

An absorbing tale of grand dreams, shady politics, daring engineering experiments, greed, ambition, and westward expansion, Rails across the Mississippi is the first book-length history since 1881 to document the planning, financing, and construction of the first bridge across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, a national engineering landmark completed in 1874 that is now known as the Eads Bridge. Robert W. Jackson takes a fresh look at this monumental project, dispersing the myths and filling in the gaps left by earlier scholarship.

When James B. Eads outlined his plan for a bridge over the Mississippi River at St. Louis, critics said that the genius did not exist in the country capable of erecting such a structure. Instead of the tried-and-true iron truss bridge, Eads--who was not a trained engineer and had no experience designing or building bridges--proposed a radical design that shattered engineering precedent: an arch bridge longer than any in existence using steel, a material thought unsuitable for long-span bridges by virtually every engineer in America and Europe.

Parallel to the construction of the bridge, Andrew Carnegie and other ambitious capitalists engaged in a shell game of bond sales, multiple mortgages, and deferred interest that provided just enough capital to keep the project moving forward. Jackson brilliantly depicts the slick local politicking, international negotiations, and egregious conflicts of interest that were the hallmark of the Gilded Age of unregulated business.

A marvel of innovative engineering, the bridge was a fiasco as a business venture. Its success as an investment depended on its heavy use by railroads, which required not only a commitment from railroads terminating in St. Louis and East St. Louis but also the construction of a mile-long tunnel under downtown St. Louis, passenger and freight terminal facilities, and tracks connecting the bridge to these facilities.

Completed three years late and more than $6 million over budget, the St. Louis Bridge never recovered its costs. Nonetheless, Eads's bridge still stands at the gateway to the West, a testament to the determination and resourcefulness of its chief engineer.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780252026805
  • Publisher: University of Illinois Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1 A Creature of Hope 1
2 Destined to Become 13
3 Other People's Money 29
4 Mongrel Structures 37
5 Fighting for It Still 50
6 The Center of the World 61
7 The Great Bugbear 71
8 The Grecian Bend 82
9 Golden Eggs 93
10 Untried Methods 104
11 Proper Facilities 116
12 A Little Mixture of Conciliation 127
13 The Elements of Commercial Supremacy 136
14 The Texas Trade 148
15 Honor at the Stake 157
16 Capital and Influence 170
17 The Consummation So Devoutly Wished For 180
18 Stately Pomp and Ceremony 194
19 The Elements of a Great City 207
Epilogue 221
Notes 225
Bibliography 245
Index 251
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