Mears Memorial Bridge

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Mears Memorial Bridge
Mears Memorial Bridge AK.jpg
View of bridge shortly after completion in 1923
Coordinates 64°34′02″N 149°04′43″W / 64.5670978°N 149.0786362°W / 64.5670978; -149.0786362Coordinates: 64°34′02″N 149°04′43″W / 64.5670978°N 149.0786362°W / 64.5670978; -149.0786362
Carries Single track of Alaska Railroad
Crosses Tanana River
Locale Nenana, Alaska
Owner Alaska Railroad
Design Simple truss bridge (Pennsylvania through truss)
Material Steel
Longest span 700 feet (210 m)
Designer Modjeski and Angier
Constructed by American Bridge Company
Opened February 1923
Mears Memorial Bridge is located in Alaska
Mears Memorial Bridge
Mears Memorial Bridge

The Mears Memorial Bridge is a truss bridge of the Alaska Railroad, completed in 1923. The bridge spans the Tanana River at Nenana and at 700-foot-long (210 m), it is among the largest simple truss-type bridges in the world.


The bridge’s namesake, Colonel Frederick Mears, was chairman and chief engineer of the Alaska Engineering Commission, the railroad’s builder and original operator.

The bridge was the final link in the railroad, entering service in February 1923, a year after the rest of the 470 miles (760 km) line was finished. The AEC hired the Chicago firm of Ralph Modjeski and Angier to design the bridge, and the American Bridge Company to fabricate and erect it. When completed, this 700-foot-long (210 m) Pennsylvania through-truss bridge was the longest truss span in the United States and its territories.

This bridge still ranks as the longest span of any kind in Alaska and the third-longest simple truss bridge in North America. The Juneau-Douglas Bridge main span across Gastineau Channel at Juneau ranks second at 620 feet (190 m).

President Warren G. Harding traveled to Alaska to drive the ceremonial golden spike at the north end of the bridge in July 15, 1923. It was one of Harding’s last public appearances prior to his death.


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