Index | About | Contact |Quinta Scott's Books | Other Websites | Corporate Collections

Finding Sunlight

The Eads Bridge

Coal Barge
Rail Deck
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 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.