How long is the Crescent Bridge?
This steel truss railroad bridge is called the Crescent Bridge because of the graceful curve it strikes as it extends outward over the river from the Rock Island. It was opened on January 6, 1900, just three years after the completion of the other railroad bridge in the Quad Cities, the Government Bridge, located about a mile and a half upstream from here.
On that opening winter day for this bridge, a special train came from Clinton to Rock Island as part of a grand celebration accompanied by the sound of bells, factory whistles, and even cannon fire.
The Crescent Bridge was originally built by the Rock Island Bridge and Terminal Company. The following year it was taken over by the Davenport, Rock Island and Northwestern Railroad, a local switching line commonly known as the DRI Line. Early in the life of the bridge, it carried three DRI Line passenger trains daily between Rock Island and Clinton. Through most of the 20th century, the Crescent Bridge served two major railroads, the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy and the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul, in addition to the DRI Line. Since 1995, the bridge has been owned and operated by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Designed by C. F. Loweth and constructed by the Phoenix Bridge Company, the 2,383-foot bridge has seven fixed spans of varying lengths. The swing span and the hump-back spans form a straight line across the river, and three flat-topped sections on this side form the curve. The 442-foot swing span remains open most of the time to accommodate boat traffic, but it closes for two or three train crossings per day. It also closes regularly to allow bridge tenders to commute by foot to and from their place of work -- the house perched atop the swing span.