Photo Flood 17: Riverview
Photo by @tmharter
In the 1920’s, two attractions bloomed on the horizon for Riverview, each of which would imprint the neighborhood in the minds of generations of visitors. In 1927, Chain of Rocks Amusement Park opened upon the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Photo Flood member, Theresa Harter, joyfully recalled visiting the site in her youth, and remembered a ride called the Swooper, which careened riders in small cars dangerously close to the bluff’s edge. “It felt like you were going to fly off the cliff and into the river,” she said. A serious of calamitous fires and waning ticket sales (partially because of a new Six Flags in Eureka, Missouri) contributed to the much beloved park’s eventual closure. In 1929, the mile-long, Chain of Rocks Bridge opened, and brought with it the iconic Route 66. The bridge, which is owned and operated by Madison, Illinois, was originally designed to be straight, but arguments from riverboat operators convinced engineers that this would have made navigating both the bridge and water intake towers, along with the chain of rocks shoal, dangerous. The final design features a 30 degree turn, making it legendary among bridges over large waterways. Madison operated Chain of Rocks as a toll bridge, much to the chagrin of Missourians. In 1966, the State successfully litigated to end the practice, and in the same year, constructed an alternate bridge, with a span for each direction of traffic. The new Chain of Rocks Bridge (nicknamed, I-270 Bridge) replaced the older structure, which was originally slated for demolition. Fortunately, the market for scrap metal at the time made the project unfeasible, and so the hulking bridge remained, looming in decay and neglect until Trailnet initiated a project to clean and restore the bridge for pedestrian traffic in the 1980’s. The bridge officially reopened to the public in 1999, and today, it connects to a riverfront trail extending to downtown St. Louis and beyond.