Location: Mississippi River, St Louis Date Built: July 20, 1929 GPS Coordinates: N38.76056 W090.17639
In 1936, the Chain of Rocks bridge was designated part of US Route 66. In the St. Louis area, Route 66 was originally routed across the Mississippi and into the city over the McKinley Bridge. In 1934, the route was changed to the MacArthur Bridge. Each of these corridors channeled traffic into St. Louis's warehouse district. Both options resulted in congested downtown traffic, so the highway was rerouted a third time in 1936 to cross over the Chain of Rocks Bridge. This was a much preferred course as it brought travelers into the city from the north.
Its most noticeable feature is the 22 degree bend in the middle of the structure, thus allowing riverboats to align with the current. Ships needed a way to navigate through the bridge's supports and around the two City of St Louis intake valves on the side of the bridge, but there were only certain places on the Illinois side of the river with firm enough footing to fully support the bridge. Thus the bend, which allowed for strong anchoring on both sides of the river and safe passage for riverboats. While driving slowly, those traveling Route 66 could observe two beautiful, classically built water intake towers to the south of the bridge that helps provide St Louis with much of its drinking water.
Intake Tower #1 was built in 1894 in the Romanesque style. It feeds water to the plant on the nearby shore by way of a 7 foot pipe. Intake Tower #2 was styled after a Roman Villa. Built in 1915, it contained living quarters for the crews who manned the gates, and ran the control equipment inside.
Route 66 was routed over the Chain of Rocks Bridge in 1936. This route gave travelers the opportunity to go around downtown St Louis congestion by skirting the northern and western sides of the city. This alignment was the primary route from 1936 to 1955, and was known as Bypass 66. The original alignment became know as City 66.