With its background as one of Missouri’s most important early highway bridges, the bridge has been ruled eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C for engineering as a nationally significant example of a self-anchored suspension bridge.
Considered a surprising experimentation for Missouri’s highway department, the Little Niangua Bridge is the only one of its kind still standing in the United States. But without the help of the public, it too could soon be gone.
The Camden County Historical Society though is working with the Missouri Department of Transportation to preserve this historic bridge on Route J between Climax Springs and Macks Creek.
Scheduled for replacement in a project set to begin this spring, the self-anchored suspension bridge was the fourth kind of its type in the U.S. when it was constructed in 1932 at the cost of just $36,914. The design was a prototype, according to the historical society. Just as Bagnell Dam was being finished up and the Lake of the Ozarks forming in 1931, Camden County approached the Missouri State Highway Department (the precursor of MoDOT) about building the bridge in this scenic location. MSHD consulted with John A. Roebling’s Sons Company of Trenton, N.J. on building a suspension bridge. Construction began on Aug. 1, 1932 and was completed by the Clinton Bridge Works of Clinton, Iowa on March 1933.
With its background as one of Missouri’s most important early highway bridges, the bridge has been ruled eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion C for engineering as a nationally significant example of a self-anchored suspension bridge. Given its significance at national, state and local levels, members from the historical society report that they have answered the call from Karen Daniels, Senior Historic Preservationist with the MoDOT Design Division, to adopt the bridge in order to preserve it. The CCHS has notified Misosuri’s Historic Preservation Department in Jefferson City of its intent to adopt the bridge for preservation.
The new bridge will be located 70 feet north of the historic bridge so the idea is to have side-by-side bridges with the historic bridge turned into a walking and biking bridge.
The historical society is just at the beginning of the process, however, and are looking for any and all help from the community to do so, including funding. The CCHS is organizing a group of volunteers to work on the project and are accepting donations.
For more information about helping preserve the scenic and historic bridge, contact the Camden County Historical Society at 573-346-7191.