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May 2022

History From The Heartland
Celebrating National Historic Preservation Month, "The Credential" has followed several leads to find stories of historical significance in the U.S. Heartland that include people, places, structures, landmarks and events. It was enlightening to learn how engineering and architecture have quite literally shaped our world.
We encourage you to visit your state historical society, too. You may learn some historical facts about where you live and work.
Special thanks to Robert Courtney, chair of the Olathe Kan., Historic Preservation Board for his research resulting in this article about the life of Octave Chanute, bridge builder.
Octave Chanute, a civil engineer, was born in France in 1832 and became a U.S. citizen at age 22. After his groundbreaking career, he passed away in 1910 in Chicago.
It's surprising that nothing in Kansas City, Mo., is named in honor of Octave Chanute. Chanute used his civil engineering talent to build the first permanent rail crossing over the treacherous Missouri River at Kansas City.
In 1869 Leavenworth, Kan., and St. Joseph, Mo., were much larger towns than Kansas City.  Both sat on the Missouri River and vied for dominance over the Missouri Valley. Chanute's bridge flipped the equation, consolidating train traffic in Kansas City and making it the commerce center of the region.
Hannibal Bridge construction began in 1867. Chanute built seven stone and concrete piles to support the bridge - 4 descending into a rock layer and 3 sat on piles driven into sandy sediment. Water tight wooden enclaves were constructed in the river and lower through sand to rock. Then concrete was poured in and finally stone was set. The bridge was built with a pivot draw. A section rotated to allow steamboat traffic through. Four men using levers could open the bridge in 2 minutes.
  • 1867 cost: $1,000,000 - (equivalent to $22,069,389.31 today)
  • Materials - wrought iron, cast iron and oak
The  bridge was 18' wide, paved to accommodate horse drawn vehicles when not in use by trains.
Additional little-known facts about Octave Chanute: 
  • He designed the Kansas City Stockyards
  • He platted the City of Lenexa, Kan.
  • He is the namesake of Chanute, Kan.
  • He chaired a national engineering committee that improved railroad efficiency through wood preservation.
  • He was Chief Engineer of the Chicago & Alton Railroad.
  • He authored two books: The Kansas City Bridge (1870) and Progress in Flying Machines (1894).
  • He mentored and was eulogized by the Wright Brothers.
  • He is honored on two Postal Services Air Mail Stamps. (1979)
  • He was honored by 4 foreign civil engineering societies: British, Chilean, French and Canadian.
  • He is depicted in the The Frieze of American History in the US Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. There are only 19 panels in that history lesson, and he is on one of them.
In addition to Robert Courtney writings, we acknowlege excerpts from the following:
  • Kansas City Then and Now (copyright 2006)
  • The Kansas City Story (copyright 2000)
  • Historic Photos of Kansas City (copyright 2006)
"The Credential" is moved and honored to share this important piece of history from the Heartland.
We also recognize the importance of education and credentials for those who have the gift of vision and are actively creating history. 
We provide assistance for the A/E/LA professional community exclusively to manage and maintain your personal professional and corporate credentials. We offer value and commitment to excellence. And, you will enjoy time and cost savings which can be effectively converted to billable project hours. Please contact us at 913-608-7880 for a free consultation session, send us a message, or visit
for more detailed information.  


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