Floor Section of the Combination Bridge

Date: 1896

 

Description: This is a repainted and restored floor piece of the Combination Bridge, a bridge that once stretched across the Missouri River from downtown Sioux City to what is now South Sioux City. The Combination Bridge was originally designed as a railroad bridge by the Pacific Shortline Railroad, and was called the Pacific Shortline Bridge. The railroad line was initially going to run from Sioux City to Ogden, Utah, but it needed a way to cross the Missouri. The railroad company originally built a pontoon bridge not for rail but for foot and wagon traffic in 1889. The pontoon bridge allowed pedestrians, wagons and carriages avoid the steep toll charged at the Missouri River Railroad Bridge downriver. The next year the bridge was modified to allow train traffic for the railroad line, but the company wanted a bridge above the river, not floating on pontoons, so that river traffic and train traffic would not interfere with each other.

 

The Combination Bridge was planned and construction began later in 1889. It cost Sioux City investors huge sums of money, but it was a good investment: once it was complete, the Pacific Shortline Railroad would have the shortest line into the West than any other company. This shorter line was especially dangerous for the railroad giant Union Pacific, who depended on the tolls on their Missouri River Railroad Bridge for business. Thus as the Shortline’s bridge was being built the Union Pacific was forced to offer Sioux City a better deal, lowering their tolls and running more lines through Sioux City instead of Omaha. Just as well, as the Pacific Shortline Railroad fell under with the Panic of 1893, and the Union Pacific became one of the most successful lines in the nation.

 

After some difficulties the Pacific Shortline Bridge above the river was completed in 1896 by private investors. It was renamed the Combination Bridge because it carried rail and streetcar traffic down the middle and foot traffic on either side. The bridge came into the possession of Dakota County, Nebraska, in 1938 and operated as a toll bridge for the county until 1951 when the toll was removed. The rail was replaced with a two-lane road, and was part of both Highway 77 and Highway 20. General wear and tear after 84 years made the bridge unstable, and it was demolished in 1981. It was replaced with the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge, and though a crack had to be repaired immediately after its completion, this bridge spans the Missouri River today.

 

Donor: Jules M. Busker

 

On display

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