Fords Unlimited Past Events / Great American Pony Drive

Click Here to Download this Flyer

Great American Pony Drive photos

For those of us who grew up in the North County area of St. Louis, we fondly remember the old Chain of Rocks Bridge. The Chain of Rocks Bridge is one of the more interesting bridges in America. It’s hard to forget a 30-degree turn midway across a mile-long bridge more than 60 feet above the mighty Mississippi. Your editor’s father used to drive a tanker truck for the Shell Oil Company. When he came from the refinery in Wood River, they would have to close the bridge both ways until he made it across. For more than three decades, the bridge was a significant landmark for travelers driving Route 66.

The bridge’s colorful name came from a 17-mile shoal, or series of rocky rapids, called the Chain of Rocks beginning just north of St. Louis. Multiple rock ledges just under the surface made this stretch of the Mississippi River extremely dangerous to navigate. In the 1960s, the Corps of Engineers built a lowwater dam covering the Chain of Rocks. That’s why you can’t see them today. Back in 1929, at the time of the construction of the bridge, the Chain was a serious concern for boatmen.

In 1967, the New Chain of Rocks Bridge carrying Interstate 270 opened just 2,000 feet upstream of the old bridge, which closed in 1968. The bridge deteriorated, and during the 1970s, Army demolition teams considered blowing it up just for practice. In 1975, demolition seemed photo’s by Dan Kelly eminent. Fortunately for the bridge, a bad market saved the day. The value of scrap steel plummeted, making demolition no longer profitable. At that point, the Chain of Rocks Bridge entered 20 years of bridge limbo --too expensive to tear down, too narrow and outdated to carry modern vehicles. In 1980, film director John Carpenter used the gritty, rusting bridge as a site for his science fiction film, Escape from New York. Otherwise, the bridge was abandoned.

Great American Pony Drive photosWhen our club attended the Mustang Round Up that was held by the Mustang Club of St. Louis, we were asked if our members with Mustangs wanted to be part of Great American Pony Drive that was heading to Oklahoma. That group was going to cross the bridge on April 9th and we were allowed to join them as they motored across the historic structure.

Members from our club who were able to attend included Barb Dennis, Mark Carey, Jerry Grimmer, Jake Turnipseed, and Dan Kelly.

We thank the Mustang Club of St. Louis for the invite, the Gateway Cruisers who were our hosts, and to board of directors member, Dan Kelly, who organized this last minute event for our club. Dan noted that if we get enough members interested, we may be able to have a chance to have our members cross the bridge.