'A World's Wonder'

May 13, 1892

Memphis was awash in red, white and blue bunting when a curious and excited crowd, an estimated 50,000, arrived at the foot of the city’s first bridge spanning the Mississippi River, the Frisco railroad bridge, to watch the first train cross. As a test of the massive $3 million span — "A World’s Wonder" as the headline writer described it — 18 locomotives were strung together.

It was 12 o’clock exactly when the test was made. The firing of the cannon was the signal for the coming of the great locomotive train, and such a sight and sound as it presented! The train started from the western side, three miles from where the expectant throng awaited it coming, and as it came into view loud huzzas rent the air, but were drowned into insignificance by the awful roar made by the coming of the locomotives, for every whistle in that long train was pulled wide open, and was pouring steam and uproar into the air at a volume calculated to arouse the long slumbering remains of DeSoto himself. And every steam whistle in the city caught up the chorus. Tugs and steamboats on the river below joined in the noise, as the train passed over the bridge and cannons boomed forth hoarse accompaniment. It was a terrific uproar, but not greater than the grandeur of the occasion warranted.

Top: A drawing of the crowd that braved the wet weather to attend the opening ceremony of the Frisco railroad bridge.

Bottom: The celebration continued with a parade through downtown, complete with floats, which can be seen in these renderings.

Top: A drawing of the crowd that braved the wet weather to attend the opening ceremony of the Frisco railroad bridge.

Bottom: The celebration continued with a parade through downtown, complete with floats, which can be seen in these renderings.

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