Who designed it?
The Chamberlain Bridge is credited to John Edward Kirkham born in 1870 at Covington, Indiana. He accepted the position of the first bridge engineer for the state of South Dakota in October 1919. With Kirkham’s figures in-hand, the 1923 legislature appropriated funds for the five Missouri River bridges for a total cost of $2.1 million. The Mobridge, Pierre and Forest City bridges are no longer in service.
The other two bridges were:
Chamberlain Bridge, comprised of four 336 ft. riveted Pennsylvania through truss spans and, completed in September 1925, was built and fabricated by the Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Works of Leavenworth, Kansas.
At the time Kirkham estimated the cost of the Chamberlain Bridge to be $303,623. The bridge was dedicated on September 25, 1925 with a large outdoor celebration. It connected Chamberlain with American Island, which is now sitting under the Missouri River after the dams were created in the mid 50s.
Wheeler (Rosebud) Bridge
Wheeler (Rosebud) Bridge comprised of six 256 ft. pin-connected Pennsylvania through truss spans and completed in September of 1925 was the only pin connected bridge among the 5 bridges. Kirkham designed it for dis-assembly because of the possibility that it might be replaced with a combination railroad and highway bridge. The bridge was built by the Kansas City Bridge Company with steel fabricated by the American Bridge Co. Its estimated cost was to be $771,080.
How it was built?
In 1953, the Wheeler Bridge was floated in sections upstream 70 miles to become the west sections in creating a new bridge at Chamberlain. By combining the Wheeler Bridge with the Chamberlain Bridge which was moved 1/4 mile south it could better serve South Dakota.
The Pylons of the Chamberlain Bridge still stand today! The $4.5 million dual highway bridge was dedicated on December 7, 1953. The community was proud to have our bridge be placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995.
The original bridge was dedicated on September 25, 1925. It was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1995 and completely overhauled in 2011-2012
On June 13, 2014 there was a bridge rededication… The historic bridge added a new name – it became known as American Legion Memorial Bridge.