When we took our Route 66 honeymoon in 2016, one of the intriguing places we came across was the infamous Chain of Rocks Bridge. It connects Illinois and Missouri over the Mississippi River and is special for several reasons: It has a 22-degree bend in the center, it is flanked by two historic water collection towers and it is reportedly haunted.
When a new bridge was constructed, the old bridge was preserved as a walking trail and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here is its story:
The area was developed by the St. Louis Water Works in 1887 and a water plant was completed on the Missouri side in 1894. When a filter plant was added in 1915, it was the largest in the world. Two water intake towers were erected in the Mississippi along an underwater feature known as the Chain of Rocks.
The towers are fascinating pieces of architecture and look like mini castles. They are still in use today. The oldest, Romanesque in style, was built in 1894. The other was built in 1915.
According to rivergator.com, the older tower includes an apartment. “The towers’ foundations reach down almost 100 feet to bedrock below the silty bottom of the river. The tower is styled after a Roman villa; it contained living quarters for the crews who manned the gates and control equipment housed within.”
The Old Chain of Rocks Bridge was built in 1929 as a private toll bridge to carry motor traffic from from Chouteau Island, Ill., to St. Louis. It was designated as part of Route 66 and was used until 1970.
In 1981, it was used in filming “Escape from New York.” According to local lore, it was a popular hangout in the decades it was abandoned and it became known for a high incidence of crime. In 1991, sisters Julie and Robin Kerry were murdered at the bridge and are the subject of a 2005 episode of “American Justice.” Many locals report seeing spirits there.