Jump to Navigation

Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company records

Creator: Missouri Valley Steel (Leavenworth, Kan.)

Date: 1893-1978 (bulk 1901-1978)

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Manuscripts Collection 167

Unit ID: 40167

Abstract: The records document the Missouri Valley Steel's business as a contractor for bridge construction projects throughout the United States and some in Mexico. Included are board of directors annual meeting minutes, 1947-1976; board of director special meeting minutes, 1958-1977; correspondence, 1976-1978; corporation dissolution documents for Missouri Valley Steel, Inc., 1976-1979; insurance records; tax records documenting distributions in liquidation during a calendar year; and correspondence relating to a liquidating trust agreement with the First National Bank of Leavenworth. The minutes discuss various projects and the general direction of the business. The collection also includes alphabetical card file indexes to various construction contracts; photographs of the Evansville, Ind., shipyard; and project files containing estimates & blueprints labeled by project, [ca. 1901-1939]. Also included are numerous technical drawings of projects the company was involved with. The H. S. Tullock scrapbook contains clippings from newspapers from the local area, Kansas City, and other states documenting bridge construction.

Space Required/Quantity: 50.00 cubic feet

Title (Main title): Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company records

Titles (Other):

  • Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. collection
  • Missouri Valley Steel records
  • Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Works records
  • Records

Administrative History

Administrative History:

The company manufactured long span, draw, lattice and girder bridges, turn-tables, wrought-iron pliers, columns and trestle work, roof trusses, heavy forgings, and general iron work for jails, court houses, and other buildings. The company had been a leader in bridge construction for the Leavenworth, Topeka & Southwestern R. R. Co. During the early 20th century, the company was a part of a group Kansas City area firms responsible for building Oklahoma's highway bridges. The company had multiple names over its lifetime, including the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company and the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works.

The Missouri Valley Bridge Company was originally formed as a partnership between Edwin I. Farnsworth and D. W. Eaves in 1874. Edwin Farnsworth was one of the early settlers and city officials in Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1867 he was appointed City Engineer, a position he held until 1871, when he became an agent for the Wrought Iron Bridge Company. In 1872, he became Chief Engineer for the competing King Iron Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which had established a shop in Topeka. Although successful, Farnsworth came to realize that it would be easier to manufacture and sell bridges in Kansas than import them from eastern firms. Returning to Leavenworth, he organized the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works [the initial name was actually the Missouri Valley Bridge Co.] In 1878, the business was taken over by the banking firm of Insley and Shire. A. J. Tullock, an engineer from Rockford, Illinois was named engineer and manager. Farnsworth moved on to found the Kansas City Bridge and Iron Company, the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company and the firm of Farnsworth and Blodgett.

A. J. Tullock purchased interest in the company in 1880 and was listed as one of the proprietors. In 1888, he purchased the whole operation and operated it until his death in 1904. The company name was also changed in that year to Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company.

In 1904 the company was incorporated and the active members were past employees with the exception of Amos E. Wilson, a local banker. Wilson acted as president until 1907, when Katherine S. Tullock, Vice President, assumed the presidency, holding this office until 1921, when H. S. Tullock became President.

During this period, bridge construction was performed for the principal railroads of the West and Southwest, and for the Mexican Central (National Lines of Mexico). The company also constructed the original Galveston Bay Bridge and the wharf at Tampico, Mexico.

Construction of new supplements to early 20th Century issues of Engineering News indicates that the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company was a major supplier of roadway bridges in Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and other states in west, south, and southwest.

In addition, the company continued its railroad bridge construction along with other bridges such as the McKinley Bridge and the foundation for the Free Bridge, both across the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri. It also constructed Dam number 14 on the Ohio River near Wheeling, West Virginia, together with smaller structures in this class. During the First World War, they were responsible for the construction of the Ferris Type Ships (wood) at Quantico, Virginia, together with a floating Dry Dock at Galveston, Texas, for the U. S. Shipping Board.

From 1921 to 1946, the company became particularly adept at deep and difficult subaqueous foundation work. They constructed foundations for the Carquinez Straits Bridge at Crockett in the upper portion of San Francisco Bay and the East Bay foundations for the San Francisco Bay Bridge. They also became interested in power plant work, building plants in Lawrence and Abilene, Kansas. A shipyard was activated in 1939 to build river towboats and barges.

During the Second World War they were one of five companies who constructed a shipyard and built LST Landing Craft and other floating equipment at Evansville, Indiana. The company also operated a shipyard at Leavenworth, Kansas where LCT's and LCM's were built.

In 1946, the shop and shipyard of the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron company was acquired by Missouri Valley Steel, Inc., a new company with J. V. Oliver as president. The original incorporators were R. J. Brown, Jr., Jack Mitchell, R. D. Keeler, E. L. Hardeman, J. V. Oliver, Tim Bannon, Bink Ingersoll, W. Erickson and I. W. Rogers. Bill Oliver joined the company several months later.

During the 1950's the shipyard constructed boats, barges, and floating equipment as well as passenger cargo vessels and ocean going harbor tugs. These were sent to New Orleans and Charleston.

The bridge shop evolved into a fabricator of pollution control equipment and shipped material to all the states of the Union as well as foreign countries. On June 28, 1975, the shop was destroyed by fire.

On December 9, 1975, a new company, Missouri Valley Fabricators was formed to purchase the assets of Missouri Valley Steel and rebuild the burned out building.

Closely associated with Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron was the Leavenworth Bridge and Iron Company. It was founded by John B Tearney. Terney came from a long line of stone masons and contractors. From 1875 until 1929, Tearney built most of the bridges and culverts in Leavenworth and adjoining counties, either by direct bid or by subcontract from Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company. He owned J. B. Tearney and Company, was a partner with Al Rohr, former contracting agent for Missouri Valley, in Rohr and Tearney, and was a silent partner in Leavenworth Bridge Company. The silence stemmed from the fact that all four companies often bid on the same contract and if one of the four received the contract they would divide it among themselves. Leavenworth Bridge was basically a bidding company, with J. B. Tearney and Company doing the actual construction.

Scope and Content

Scope and content: The records document the Missouri Valley Steel's business as a contractor for bridge construction projects throughout the United States and some in Mexico. Included are board of directors annual meeting minutes, 1947-1976; board of directors special meeting minutes, 1958-1977; correspondence, 1976-1978; corporation dissolution documents for Missouri Valley Steel, 1976-1979; insurance records; tax records documenting distributions in liquidation during a calendar year; and correspondence relating to a liquidating trust agreement with the First National Bank of Leavenworth. The minutes discuss various projects and the general direction of the business. The collection also includes alphabetical card file indexes to various construction contracts; photographs of the Evansville, Ind., shipyard; and project files containing estimates & blueprints labeled by project, [ca. 1901-1939]. Also included are numerous technical drawings of projects the company was involved with. The H. S. Tullock scrapbook contains clippings from newspapers from the local area, Kansas City, and other states documenting bridge construction.

Contents: Records, [ca. 1901]-1933 (13 ft. (13 boxes)) -- records, 1947-1978 (0.4 ft. (1 box)) -- bridge projects (5 v.) -- contract ledger, 1925-1940 (1 v.) -- scrapbooks, 1893-1943 (4 v.) -- technical drawings (162 cubic ft.)

Specific Contents Identified:

Headings or descriptors assigned to subsections of the material, for example labels on a particular box or group of boxes.

  • 1901-1933c
  • 1925-1940: contract ledger
  • Engineering drawings: Contract #6094 (#60, Mississippi River Municipal Bridge, Saint Louis, Mo.), U #529, State Highway Commission of Kansas. Topeka Avenue bridge over Kansas River [Topeka, Kan.]
  • Engineering drawings: File B-2
  • Engineering drawings: File D
  • Engineering drawings: File D-4
  • Engineering drawings: File H-1
  • Engineering drawings: File H-2
  • Engineering drawings: File J
  • Engineering drawings: File K-3

Related Records or Collections

Associated materials: Technical drawings: Part of the map collection.

Finding Aids: For a detailed list of drawings in this collection see: Missouri Valley Ironworks List of Drawings.

Indexes: Card indexes to projects.

Bibliography

Finding Aid Bibliography:

Jochims, Larry. Ms. on the Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Co. prepared for the Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation, transcribed in Hominy Creek Bridge nomination to the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER No. OK-5), at http://www.historicbridges.org/missouri/fishtrap/haer.pdf (accessed 8 May 2013).

Kansas Collection Books. "William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas: LEAVENWORTH COUNTY, Part 13." http://www.kancoll.org/books/cutler/leavenworth/leavenworth-co-p13.html (accessed September 17, 2009.)

Oklahoma Department of Transportation. "A New Era in Bridge Building." http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/hqdiv/p-r-div/spansoftime/newera.htm (accessed September 17, 2009.)

Index Terms

Subjects

    Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company
    Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Company -- Records and correspondence
    Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works -- History
    Missouri Valley Bridge and Iron Works -- Records and correspondence
    Missouri Valley Steel (Leavenworth, Kan.)
    Evansville (Ind.)
    Leavenworth (Kan.)
    Mexico
    United States
    Bridges -- Mexico -- Design and construction
    Bridges -- United States -- Design and Construction
    Iron-works -- Kansas -- Leavenworth
    Shipyards -- Indiana -- Evansville

Creators and Contributors


Additional Information for Researchers

Use and reproduction: Information on copyright available from the Kansas Historical Society (Topeka)