After construction was completed, the population of Kansas City began to boom.
It was designed by Octave Chanute, who also designed the Kansas City Stockyards. It was a swing bridge which could open in under two minutes, and it had an arched truss design. The bridge cost $1 million to build in its day.
In 1886, the bridge was severely damaged by a tornado which collapsed a middle span. It was reconstructed and its truss structure was altered from an arch design to a traditional truss design. It was later replaced by the Second Hannibal Bridge 200 feet upstream on the northern bank, but at the same location on the southern bank where it enters into the gooseneck cut into the bluff, where it still stands today.
^O. Chanute and George Morison, The Kansas City Bridge with an account of the Regimen of the Missouri River and a Description of the Methods used for Founding at the River, D. Van Nostrand, NY, 1870, Michigan Historical Reprint Series, University of Michigan