Discover the 9 Worst Bridge Collapses In the United States

Finding out about the deadliest bridge failures in the US will be terrifying if you consider how frequently you trust a bridge and drive your car across it each day, week, or month. Every time we drive across a bridge, ride a train across a bridge, or stroll across a catwalk that connects two buildings, there is a chance that the supporting structure will give way.

Knowing that bridge collapses are uncommon in the US is reassuring. We had to start in 1873 when the Truesdell Bridge in Dixon fell in order to compile a list of the worst bridge collapses in American history. Another consolation for Americans is that, in contrast to equipment failure or design flaws, the majority of bridge collapses in this nation are brought on by natural disasters like earthquakes or being struck by a ship.

1. Truesdell Bridge in Elgin, Illinois, in 1873

The Dixon tragedy’s Truesdell Bridge collapse was the worst to occur on an American bridge. In addition to sending individuals flying to the ground below when this bridge collapsed, it also trapped them in the water by twisting and falling on top of them. The bulky bridge components gradually sank, lowering the stranded passengers with them.

Over 200 people swarmed onto the bridge, and it gave way under their weight. The Rock River was crossed by the Truesdell Bridge. The people were attending a meeting at the Baptist Church that May day in 1873, and they were also making their way to the river to observe or participate in the baptizations that the Rev. J.H. Pratt was conducting.

The citizens had no reason to question the stability of the timbers because the Truesdell Bridge was just four years old. The bridge twisted under the weight of the people on it, broke apart into pieces, and rolled over several pedestrians who were crossing it. During the horrific bridge collapse, 56 people died.

2. Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940

On November 7, 1940, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge gave way due to a windstorm. Puget Sound was bridged by the bridge. Four months prior to the catastrophic fall, it was finished. The “Galloping Gertie” bridge, which at the time was the third-longest suspension bridge, earned its moniker.

Traditional trusses, which enable wind to travel through them, were not used to construct this bridge. Instead, the new design divided the wind’s force, transferring it simultaneously over and under the bridge. The wind’s force was too much for the bridge to bear, and it collapsed.

The fact that only one person was killed in this bridge fall was fortunate. Although a lot of labor and resources were lost and are now submerged in Puget Sound, the cost of the fatalities was relatively small.

3. Silver Bridge in 1967

On the Ohio side of the Silver Bridge, which crossed the Ohio River between West Virginia and Ohio, one of the greatest automobile bridge collapses in American history took place. The catastrophe took place in December, when the water beneath the bridge was almost frozen.

A number of vehicles and people were thrown into the Ohio River as the bridge collapsed. There were 46 fatalities and eight additional injuries. A supporting eyebar had a weakness that grew worse with the weight and traffic on the bridge because it had a brittle fracture in the lower part and a ductile fracture in the upper part.

4. Sunshine Skyway Bridge in1980

In May 1980, a bridge collapse in St. Petersburg, Florida, one of the deadliest in American history. Two of the support beams were hit by a ship, which precipitated the catastrophe. The MV Summit Venture had a difficult time navigating the waterway due to the heavy fog. Fog, strong winds, and torrential rain were all present in the area.

Six automobiles, a truck, and a Greyhound bus fell 150 feet into the river below as a result of the collapse. The terrible crash and ensuing bridge collapse resulted in 35 fatalities.

5. Hyatt Regency Walkways in1981

One of the deadliest bridge collapses in the United States was the walkway at the Hyatt Regency. Although some individuals do not think of a walkway between two structures as a bridge, it is. The second and fourth floors of the Hyatt Regency in Kansas City lost way under the weight of the people on them when the walkway collapsed on July 17, 1981.

Injuries caused 114 people to pass away, and many more ended up in hospitals. A large group of people were dancing on the ground floor when the walkway and people crashed on them. The death toll from this bridge collapse tops those from the other calamities.

6. Oakland’s Cyprus Street Viaduct in 1989

The double-decker Cypress Street Bridge in San Francisco was shaken by an earthquake in October 1989 so severely that the higher bridge section fell onto the lower part. 42 individuals died as a result of the incident.

The bridge had been in operation since 1957, and people had confidence in its stability and security, thus the collapse was unexpected. Nobody was prepared for an earthquake with such force that it shattered the top bridge’s supports and caused them to fall onto the lower part.

7. Big Bayou Canot in 1993

On September 22, 1993, one of the worst bridge failures in American history took place in Mobile, Alabama. The majority of the train’s passengers were asleep when the fall happened in the early morning hours. There were 47 fatalities in the terrible train catastrophe.

Unaware that a barge had just been rammed into the bridge supports by a tugboat, the train began traveling across the Big Bayou Canot Bridge outside of Mobile. The tracks developed a bend as a result of the tugboat incident. The train derailed as a result of the severe kink. Four train cars and three locomotive cars were thrown off the bridge. A part of the bridge’s span was damaged by one of the locomotives, which led to the bridge’s collapse.

8. Queen Isabella Causeway Bridge in 2001

South Padre Island is connected to the rest of Texas by the Isabella Causeway Bridge. The only route to enter and exit the island is over the bridge, which is 85 feet above the water. A barge struck the bridge on September 15, 2001, and it later collapsed.

Eight individuals were killed and three others suffered serious injuries when the sad incident sent cars and their occupants tumbling into the river below. The fact that the residents on the island were shut off from the main part of Texas was one of the saddest aspects of this disaster. The occupants of the island had difficulty procuring supplies as a result.

9. I-35 W Mississippi River Bridge in 2007

The I-35 W Mississippi River Bridge collapsed during the worst possible time of day, making it one of the deadliest bridge failures in American history. On August 1, 2007, the bridge gave way as commuters were making their way home from work. Traffic on I-35W in Minnesota might cross the Mississippi River thanks to an eight-lane bridge.

Poor planning and faulty construction led to the collapse. The metal gusset plates were not constructed from a sturdy enough material to support the bridge. With the weight of the bridge, the added weight of the construction equipment, and the volume of traffic crossing, the thin gusset plates were put under stress. As a result of the gussets giving way, more bridge segments also collapsed.

111 cars and trucks fell 115 feet into the river and onto the banks below. In the river below, 18 construction workers fell. 13 persons lost their lives in the collapse, while 145 more were hurt.

Overview of the 10 Worst Bridge Collapses In the United States

Bridge Year Deaths and Injuries Cause
Truesdell Bridge in Elgin, Illinois 1873 46 deaths, 56 injuries error in design
Tacoma Narrows Bridge 1940 1 ceath error in design
Silver Bridge in 1967 1967 46 deaths, eight injuries failure of the eyeball pin
Sunshine Skyway Bridge 1980 35 deaths Struck by a ship
Hyatt Regency Walkways 1981 114 deaths failure of connectors
Oakland’s Cyprus Street Viaduct 1989 42 deaths earthquake
Big Bayou Canot 1993 47 deaths Locomotive derailed and struck supports
Queen Isabella Causeway Bridge 2001 Eight deaths, three injuries struck by a barge
I-35 W Mississippi River Bridge 2007 13 deaths, 145 injuries error in design