This bridge was built by the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad as one of its two Mississippi River crossings. It is now owned and operated by the BNSF Railroad. It is used as a secondary route for Chicago to Kansas City traffic. Since traffic tends to be lighter on this route, it also tends to be used for high priority express trains.
The first crossing at this location was about 500 feet south of the current railroad bridge. Built in 1868, it had a swing span near the Missouri side of the river. That bridge was rebuilt in 1899, and it included wagon bridges hung off the sides of the rail bridges to accommodate farm traffic and automobiles. The new Quincy Soldier's Memorial highway bridge opened in 1930. The wagon bridge decks were subsequently removed from the the old railroad bridge in the early 1930s.
The current bridge was built in 1960. It follows a new alignment that angles a bit northward, and runs between 500 feet and 2000 feet north of the old railroad bridge. This bridge is interesting in that it is very high for a railroad bridge, with 63 feet of clearance between the bridge and the water. The bridge also has an unusual combination of truss sections, with most of the bridge being a series of deck trusses, while the main span is a through deck truss. At first glance, the bridge almost appears to be a lift bridge, but it is not, the sections are fixed in place. Finally, the river navigation channel was relocated to the east side of the main channel, whereas the swing span on the old bridge was on the west side of the main channel. This configuration has resulted in fewer accidents and bridge strikes.