See why travelers love snapping photos on this unique Route 66 bridge…
On the short stretch of Route 66 that snakes through Kansas, one of the most popular photo stops has to be the “Rainbow Bridge,” but it’s not just a nice little spot to snap a few pictures. It’s a glimpse into bridge engineering from the past.
About the Rainbow Bridge
Actually named the Brush Creek Bridge, most of us Route 66ers just call it the “rainbow bridge” for its rainbow-arch design, and it’s the only Marsh Rainbow Arch bridge still standing on the Kansas portion of Route 66.
While built in the 1920s to connect the mining towns of Galena, Baxter Springs, and Riverton, the bridge’s history actually begins in the early 1910s in Iowa when James Barney Marsh patented his concrete and steel design. Marsh would go on to build roughly 70 of his patented bridges, predominately in Kansas.
The Brush Creek Bridge, one of roughly 35 of Marsh’s bridges still remaining in KS, was a Route 66 mainstay from 1923 until the highway was bypassed by the interstate in the 1960s.
In 1983, the bridge was placed on the National Register of Historic Places, but still faced an uncertain future for nearly a decade. In 1992, after the other two Marsh bridges on KS’s Route 66 were dismantled, the Kansas Historic Route 66 Association stepped in to ensure its survival.
Around this time, a bypass bridge was also constructed to handle the daily through-traffic of the area.
Kansas’s Route 66 Rainbow Bridge Today
Today, the KS Historic Route 66 Association, Cherokee County, and the National Park Service Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program help keep the Brush Creek Bridge open to Route 66 travelers looking to step back in time and pose for photos on the bridge.
Thanks to the bypass route, stopping, standing, and posing on the bridge is a breeze! Just take a look at some of the photos we’ve snapped over the years on the bridge: