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Blair Bridges      [site map]
  • Flat Top (Whipple Truss) Railroad Bridge
  • Round Top (Parker Truss) Railroad Bridge  (current)
  • Round Top (Pennsylvania Truss) Auto Bridge
  • New Highway 30 Blair Bridge   (current)
1.5 miles east of Blair, Nebraska spanning the Missouri River
NW 1/4, NW 1/4, SW 1/4, of Section , Township 18 North, Range 12 East Washington County, Nebraska; Harrison County, Iowa.
  Photo Galleries

Train Bridge Photos
             The Whipple Truss Bridge
             The Parker Truss Bridge

u Auto Bridge Photos
             The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge

u TimeLine -- Blair Bridges

Before the Bridge

The early railroad service in Blair dates back to February of 1869 when the Sioux City & Pacific Railroad finished a line from the Missouri River at Blair west to Fremont. Train cars were hauled across the river by steam ferry maintained by the railroad in the summer months. In the extreme cold of the winter, tracks were lay on top of the frozen river ice.  The locomotive would bring the train to the river and then turn around, using the round house in Blair, for a return trip.  On the other side of the river a new locomotive was waiting. Both the ferry and ice bridge modes were slow and unreliable. 

Around the same time, the rail line stretch north from Omaha to De Soto (just south of Blair.)  Then on October 7, 1871, the road was completed to Herman, on the line of Washington and Burt Counties, with the prospect of extending a branch by way of Logan Creek and Elkhorn Valley to the mouth of the Niobrara.

In 1881, as plans developed to build a bridge across the river, the town started to experience a building boom. Major buildings such as the Blair National Bank Building & Mayle/Hungate Building were two of the first to establish Washington Street as the main business district. 


Related Links:
u History of Blair
u John I. Blair
u Early Railroads in area
Photos of the Omaha Ferry
u Maps of Early Rail Lines

The Blair Crossing  (1883)


Railroads   -- from Johnson's History of Nebraska, 1880
The Omaha & Northern Nebraska Railroad runs through the County from south to north, passing up the Missouri Valley. Length of road in the County, 24.47 miles.

The Sioux City & Pacific Railroad, connecting with the Union Pacific at Fremont, in Dodge County, runs through the central portion of this County, from east to west, a distance of 19.60 miles.

  • Construction:
    "Comprised of three 330-foot Whipple trusses supported 50 feet above the high water by massive stone piers, the Blair Bridge took a year to build and cost almost $1.3 million:  $400,000 of which was spent on shore rectification.  -- completed Oct 1883 
    ALM Bridge page 6

Related Links:
u  Train Bridge Photos

u  George S. Morison
Engineer for the Blair Bridge

  Drawings of the Bridge
     Construction drawings

u  Construction Images
        from Morison's Bridges
  Railroad Bridge Survey
     from the Library of Congress

u  Whipple Truss Bridge

u  Chicago & North Western Historical Society


The Replacing the Bridge  (1923)

bridges.jpg (282129 bytes)
Rebuilding the Train Bridge
Pictured here is the new railroad bridge under construction.  The spans on the right were the old bridge.  On the left is a new section.  Note the engine crossing on this section.

Replacement:  "Morrison's Whipple trusses at Blair had been replaced in 1924 with Parker trusses fabricated by the American   Bridge Company in New York." ALMBridge page 24
Related Links:
u  Relocation to  Wyoming
      over the Wind River

u  Article from Railway Age



A Bridge for A Highway (1929)

Already the ferry had shuttled automobiles cross in the Missouri, make the B-line cutoff through Blair a more direct route for the old Lincoln Highway and later Highway 30.

In 1928 and 1929, a new bridge was built across the Missouri, near the C&NW railroad by Blair, Nebraska. US 30 was re-aligned to this bridge in 1931, after a road was built between Missouri Valley, Iowa and the new bridge. The bypass north of Omaha saved forty miles between Missouri Valley and Fremont, NE. The bridge was named the "Abraham Lincoln Memorial Bridge" although the road was no longer officially the Lincoln Highway.

(Pennsylvania or Petit truss was used on the Auto Bridge in 1928)  ALMBridge page 22

  • (Pennsylvania or Petit truss was used on the Auto Bridge in 1928)  ALMBridge page 22

Dedicated July 26, 1929 

Related Links:
u  Auto Bridge Photos

u  Lincoln Highway in Blair

u Auto Bridge Survey
     from the Library of Congress

u Dedication of Bridge
    from the Ansgar Lutheran

u Ask Andrew Carnegie to build the Bridge
from the Blair Democrat Newspaper  August 1917


Dedication Place from the Auto Bridge on display at the Washington County Museum


The New Highway Bridge (1991)

November 1991, the old Pennsylvania truss bridge was demolished. 
Steel stringer/multi-beam or girder
Length: 1,984 feet
Longest span: 333 feet
Daily traffic: 6,540 (2006)
Historical River Crests
(1) 33.50 ft on 04/17/1952
(2) 31.80 ft on 04/27/1950
(3) 31.40 ft on 04/12/1943
(4) 31.20 ft on 04/13/1944
(5) 30.00 ft on 06/30/1947


Chicago & North Western Historical Society Magazine
Fall 1997 Issue
    The Blair Crossing  by Lou Schmitz
    Man Whose Name was Blair  by Joe Follmar
    A Town Named Blair   by Lou Schmitz

A History of Nebraska Bridges by James Potter & L.R. Puschendoef  published by Nebraska Historical Society

Historic Railroads of Nebraska by Michael M. Bartels, James J. Reisdorff
ISBN: 0738520357    Price: $19.99   128 Pages Acadia Publishing     Published 2002

Missouri River Bridge at Blair, Neb., Rebuilt by O.F. Dalstrom, article from Railway Age, November 22, 1924
     Read Article
Read PDF

Other related Links:
u  Basic Bridge Terminology
u  Bridge Construction Types

Copyright 2008 Blair Historic Preservation Alliance.  All rights reserved.

Research Notes