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Finding Sunlight

The Eads Bridge

Abutment
Rail Deck
Coupling
Coal Barge
Charles Guggenheim, a documentary filmmaker, mounted a camera on the front of a train and ran it across the raildeck of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis. From the moment I saw it I knew I would go there some day. I did.
Charlie, the bridge tolltaker, opened the door to the raildeck. A train rushed past the door and onto the bridge. I jumped back, but continued, and worked all morning. After trains had stopped using the bridge, Charlie just handed me the key and let me go down at will.
James B. Eads, who had never built a bridge, walked the river bottom with his head in a diving bell, fashioned from a whiskey barrel, salvaging steamboats. An air hose ran from the bell to a pump on a snag boat. He understood the murky, turbulent currents, that made bridge-building a risky venture.
When he finished, he lead a parade of elephants across his bridge at a time when people believed that an elephant would never cross a structure it deemed unsafe.