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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Riverview in St. Louis, Missouri — The American Midwest (Upper Plains)
 

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge

A Route Through History

 
 
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, August 4, 2020
1. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Marker
Inscription.  
Rocky Start

Natural and built features impact the past, present and future of the St. Louis region. During the last Ice age, ice blocked the Mississippi River channel in this area - forcing the river to carve out a new route over bedrock. The chain of rocks that remain in the river today for several miles north of St. Louis are a series of strong stone ledges that have not yet been eroded by the flowing water. These rocks made the river dangerous to navigate by boat during most river stages - and impossible to navigate during low water. To accommodate riverboat traffic, the Army Corps of Engineers built an 8.4 mile long canal to bypass the chain of rocks in 1953. The rocks that you see here just south of this bridge are a low water dam built by the Army Corps of Engineers in 1964 to raise the water level high enough to cover the chain of rocks upstream and keep the river levels high enough at the top of the canal to allow boats to travel through.

Bridging the Past and Present

1894 and 1915 - The two structures that you see in the river that look like ty castles are draw drinking water from
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Marker image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, August 4, 2020
2. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge Marker
Looking east on the bridge.
the Mississippi River

1929 - The Chain of Rocks toll bridge - constructed with funding from local entrepreneurs - opens to the public. The one-mile bridge has a 22-degree bend in the middle to prevent boat captains from having to navigate the bridge piers and water intake towers at the same time. Initially, the bridge features an ornate toll booth beneath an amusement park on the Missouri side and a row of 400 elm trees on the Illinois side.

1936 - Route 66 is rerouted over the Chain of Rocks Bridge, and toll profits soar.

Early 1940s - The bright red sections of the bridge are painted the dull green that you see today so that the structure is less visible from the air during World War II.

1970 - The Chain of Rocks Bridge closes, shortly after Interstate 270 opens.

1975 - Bridge demolition is planned, but with the low value of scrap steel at the time, tearing down the structure is determined to not be cost effective.

1999 - The Chain of Rocks Bridge reopens to people walking and bicycling.

Mississippi Flyway

Since prehistoric times, the Mississippi River has been used to transport people and goods - but did you know that birds use it too? The Mississippi River is the most heavily used migration route for birds in North America. 40% of all migrating
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, July 16, 2018
3. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
View of the eastern part of the bridge from Chouteau Island fishing area
birds in North America make the round trip each year along the Mississippi Flyway from their breeding grounds in Canada and the northern United States to their wintering grounds along the Gulf of Mexico and Central and South America. The waterways, wetlands, and woodlands along the Mississippi River are important resting points for these migrating birds.
 
Erected 2020 by Great Rivers Greenway.
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Bridges & ViaductsParks & Recreational AreasRoads & VehiclesWaterways & Vessels. In addition, it is included in the U.S. Route 66 🛣️ series list.
 
Location. 38° 45.851′ N, 90° 10.86′ W. Marker is in Riverview in St. Louis, Missouri. Marker can be reached from Riverview Drive south of Interstate 270. Marker is located on the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which serves as a bike/walking path (Mississippi Greenway). It is on the Missouri side of the bridge. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 10840 Riverview Dr, Saint Louis MO 63137, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. A different marker also named Old Chain of Rocks Bridge (approx. one mile away in Illinois); North Riverfront Park (approx. 2.6 miles away);
Old Chain of Rocks Bridge image. Click for full size.
By Jason Voigt, July 16, 2018
4. Old Chain of Rocks Bridge
West entrance of the bridge (Missouri side). This marker was not placed at the time
Lewis and Clark (approx. 4˝ miles away); Welcome to Fort Belle Fontaine (approx. 4.6 miles away); Lewis and Clark Expedition (approx. 4.6 miles away in Illinois); The Journey Begins Here (approx. 4.6 miles away in Illinois); Fort Belle Fontaine (approx. 4.7 miles away); a different marker also named Fort Belle Fontaine (approx. 4.7 miles away).
 
More about this marker. This marker replaced one that was also placed by Great Rivers Greenway (one of their red markers, a lot of them were put up by GRG in the 2000's). The previous marker was either vandalized or stolen, as were a lot of outdoor artifacts on the west side of the bridge. There are a few pictures of the old marker that exist on the Internet, and it had more text than its replacement.
 
Regarding Old Chain of Rocks Bridge. Two ways to access the marker:

1) the best way to access the marker is from the Illinois side. From Illinois Route 3, take Chain of Rocks Road west (which is just south of Interstate 270) and follow the road, which leads to Chouteau Island. The road ends at the east entrance to the bridge. You will need to walk one mile over the bridge to view the marker. The island is open from dawn to dusk every day.

2) you can also access it from the south, as some parts of the Mississippi Greenway have parking lots and openings (including North Riverfront Park, two miles away). The bike path, which parallels the Mississippi River on the Missouri side, ends at the riverfront in front of Gateway Arch National Park (14 miles south).

It is not recommended to park on the Missouri side. The lot
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is blocked off anyway, but that doesn't stop people from parking there at times. There have been numerous reports of car break-ins, according to the National Parks website (see link). While there are cameras on the Illinois side parking lot, it is still recommended to park at your own risk and be aware of surroundings.
 
Also see . . .
1. Chain of Rocks Bridge on Wikipedia. Wikipedia page for the old bridge, not the new one (that is I-270) (Submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 

2. Chain of Rocks Bridge - Madison, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri. From the National Park Service, this talks about the history of the bridge. (Submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 

3. Mississippi Greenway. From the Great Rivers Greenway website, this talks about the 15-mile trail that goes from the bridge to Gateway Arch National Park riverfront. It parallels the Mississippi River on the Missouri side. (Submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 5, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 52 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.   3. submitted on January 16, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.   4. submitted on August 5, 2020, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.
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Jan. 18, 2021