A few thousand people turned out Thursday in eastern Missouri’s Washington to see crews demolish the 83-year-old bridge over the Missouri River.

Crews demolished the aging Missouri River bridge in Washington on April 11, 2019. The old bridge was built in 1936 (photo courtesy of reporter Chris Dieckhaus at Missourinet Warrenton affiliate KWRE Radio)

Reporter Chris Dieckhaus at Missourinet Warrenton affiliate KWRE (AM 730) says people also watched from rooftop balconies.

“They brought some of the area schoolchildren in by bus to have them witness this piece of history. It’s not everyday you get to see a historic 83-year-old bridge be blown up,” Dieckhaus says.

The state Department of Transportation (MoDOT) opened the new Highway 47 bridge in December.

Washington, which is 50 miles west of downtown St. Louis, has about 15,000 residents.

Schoolchildren, business leaders and elderly residents packed the Rennick Riverfront Park area to see the demolition, with some people already lined up at 6 a.m. Chris Dieckhaus says the demolition was loud, setting nearby alarms off.

“You saw the spark, you saw the smoke and then it was later, like a split second later you actually heard this big loud boom that shook and you could actually hear a lot of car alarms, different alarms going off,” says Dieckhaus.

Meantime, the skyline in Washington has now changed because of the demolition. Dieckhaus says there were both cheers and tears at the demolition.

“It was a part of the skyline of Washington,” Dieckhaus says. “Any logo for any of the chambers or businesses, they always kind of incorporated the skyline of the bridge. That has changed.”

Washington is the largest community between Jefferson City and St. Louis County, according to the city’s website.

The city website also notes that Washington was one of the first American towns west of the Mississippi River. Washington is also located at the southern most point of the Missouri River.

Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s full interview with KWRE Radio Reporter Chris Dieckhaus, which was recorded on April 11, 2019: