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Wax Lake Bridge Construction Photographs 1940-1941

 Collection — Box: PHOTO 0009.01
Identifier: SC Photo-0009

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of 104 black and white photographs, mostly 4” x 5”, but some as large as 8” x 10” and as small as 2 ¾” x 4 ½,” originally mounted in a photo album but now stored in Mylar sleeves. Most photos were coded with an alpha-numeric number and date written on the album page as well as on the back of the photograph. Many of the photos are marked on the back “The Serice Studio Franklin, La.” The time span noted for the photographs is from December 31, 1940 to March 20, 1941. The subject matter is construction photographs of railroad bridge construction built with Bethlehem Steel Co. structural steel members across Wax Lake, St. Mary’s Parish, near Calumet, Louisiana.


  • Creation: 1940-1941


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

[Identification of item], Wax Lake Bridge construction photographs, 1940-1941, Special Collections, Linderman Library, Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA

Biographical / Historical

The Wax Lake Outlet Railway Bridge, located near Calumet, Louisiana, was a unique railroad bridge construction job. The bridge was built before the canal that it crosses was dug, in reverse of the usual construction procedure. The 1340-ft. steel railroad bridge was built across a level stretch of dry land as this collection of photographs indicates. Later, when the bridge was finished, a canal was dug under the structure. The canal, a part of the Morganza Floodway, carries Mississippi River flood waters to the Gulf of Mexico. The Wax Lake Bridge was built to serve the Texas and New Orleans Railroad Company (a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Company). Modjeski and Masters, bridge engineers, did the design and construction supervision. Bethlehem Steel Company manufactured the structural members and erected the bridge. The design was completed in 1939 and construction occurred from late 1940 to early 1941. The bridge won an American Institute of Steel Construction Honorable Mention, Class B, for bridges in 1941. The channel was dug by the McWilliams Dredging Co.

Reference:Engineering News-Record, July 17, 1941, p. 105.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)


A collection of construction photographs of a steel railroad bridge erected on a dry flat plain which eventually became a Mississippi River floodway channel. The channel beneath the bridge elements was dredged after the bridge was constructed. This construction procedure was in reverse of the usual building process. Construction by Bethlehem Steel began in late 1940 and completed in early 1941. The reverse building process was unusual at the time. The bridge is also known as the Wax Lake Outlet Railway Bridge. During construction it was also referred to as the Calumet Bridge.


The collection of 104 photographs is arranged mostly chronologically beginning December 31, 1940 and ending March 20, 1941.

Wax Lake Bridge Construction Photographs 1940-1941 SC Photo 0009
Eleanor Nothelfer
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Lehigh University Special Collections Repository

Lehigh University
Linderman Library
30 Library Drive
Bethlehem PA 18045 USA
610-758-6091 (Fax)