1951 Kansas River ATSF Bridge Collapse -- Topeka KS
N 39° 03.725 W 095° 39.645
15S E 269785 N 4327035
Quick Description: This former Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe RR truss bridge over the Kansas River was built in 1920, washed out in 1951, and restored to service in 1953.
Location: Kansas, United States
Date Posted: 4/11/2013 1:55:54 PM
Waymark Code: WMGVBP
The original 1920 design of this bridge was for 6 Pratt through-truss panels to span the Kansas River. The bridge worked well until catastrophic flooding in 1951 caused two the the spans to collapse, dumping 4 Santa Fe locomotives into the raging river that had been intentionaly placed on the bridge to weight it down against the rising waters.
When the locomotives were salvaged, the decision was made not to raise the collapsed trusses of the bridge. They are still visible in the riverbed today when the water level is low.
The collapsed Pratt through trusses were replaced withone Baltimore through truss and one Pratt through truss, giving the bridge a unique look to say the least!
In 1994 the ATSF and the Burlington Northern RR merged, creating the BNSF. The BNSF still owns this bridge today (2013).
From a paid newspaper archive website (we are members) comes this excerpt of a very long article on the entire flood disaster in SE Kansas: (visit link
) bridge collapse&rtserp=tags/topeka-railroad-bridge-collapse?psi=41&pci=7&ndt=bd&pd=1&pe=15&pem=8&py=1951&pm=7&pey=1951
"Lawrence Journal World July 13 1951 pg 1
SANTA FE IS OUT AT TOPEKA
Rail Structure Unable to Withstand Pounding Flood Waters
MANY ARE HOMELESS
Many Kansas Communities Completely Surrounded by Water
Topeka, Kan., July 13 – (AP) -- Swirling flood waters and continuing rains spread new misery thru sodden Kansas on this grim Friday the 13th.
In Kansas Capital City, the big $40,000,000 Industrial area of the midwest's sprawling metropolitan center — and this capital city of 100,000 — suffered the newest blows.
The "Santa Fe. railroad bridge spanning the rampant Kansas river here collapsed today plunging several locomotives into the swirling waters. Ten locomotives had been placed on the bridge in the hope the added weight would enable it to withstand the battering waters of record crest now close at hand.
But the center spans gave way about noon. It was the third bridge knocked out in the' capital city area in two days. The Sardou and Brickyard bridges for vehicle traffic went out yesterday morning.
Three Bridges Remain
The two main vehicle bridges, the Melan and Topeka boulevard, and the Rock Island railroad bridge continued' to withstand the battering, the Rock Island crossing also is weighted down with 15 or 20 coal and loaded with rocks. . . . " [end]
The photo credit for the 1951 photos of the disaster belongs to the United States Geological Survey. ks.water.usgs.gov