Chester, Illinois - Home of Popeye

Chester Bridge

During the late 1930’s, Chester civic leaders and businessmen conceived an idea to construct a bridge across the Mississippi River connecting the States of Illinois and Missouri with a highway system. The project was a complicated one. A permit had to be obtained from the Federal Government to cross a federal waterway. United State Senators C.W. “Runt” Bishop and Scott Lucas played an integral part in obtaining the permit, as well as being liaison between the City of Chester and Washington, D.C. An engineering firm was contacted to supervise the construction; therefore, the firm of Sverdrup and Parcel and Associates, Inc. of St. Louis, Missouri was contracted and remained Consulting Engineers for the bridge. The Mayor of Chester during this time of planning was E.J. “Dutch” Uffelman but during the actual construction which began in 1941, Charles Oetting was the city’s Mayor. A Bridge Commission was established to govern the operations of the toll facility. The Commission appointed Charles Scott as the first Bridge Manager and issued a contract to the Massman Construction Company of Kansas City, Missouri to begin construction. On August 23, 1942, the City of Chester held the Grand Opening of the newest bridge to span the “Father of Waters”. Tragedy struck the bridge on a stormy night in July, 1944 when a windstorm of tornadic force caused two 670-foot spans to collapse into the river. Reconstruction took two years and on August 24, 1946, the bridge was reopened to traffic. This became Chester’s second toll bridge for many years. It is still the only bridge between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Chester Bridge Brochure

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