Escape From St. Louis !

Mrs. Working Stiff and I both love it when our travels take us past a movie location. We have never dedicated a whole trip to that pursuit but have taken a few side trips, added some extra miles here and there, to check out a place where scenes from movies were filmed. This past March I took a solo road trip out west to St. Louis to attend a retirement party for a co-worker. Knowing that St. Louis is the largest town on the old de-commissioned Rt. 66, (not counting Chicago and Los Angeles at either end,) I studied my Rt. 66 book for site-seeing opportunities. That led me to learn about the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge, which crosses the Mississippi River from Illinois into Missouri just north of the city of St. Louis. The bridge was opened in 1929 and closed to vehicular traffic in 1970. It is open to foot traffic but frankly is now so off the beaten path that you need to really want to go to it. (I did.)

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The movie connection is that this is the bridge that Snake Pliskin (played by Kurt Russell), and the carful of other “good” characters race across at the end of the 1981 John Carpenter film “Escape From New York”, chased by a second carful of baddies. In the movie it is never stated that they are on the Brooklyn Bridge, or the Williamsport Bridge, etc., and I guess it really doesn’t matter. The important plot point is that they are desperately trying to leave Manhattan Island via this bridge. Never mind that nobody remotely familiar with the New York area would believe that this narrow bridge had anything whatsoever to do with Manhattan Island! The reason this de-commissioned old Rt. 66 bridge was used for the scene is essentially that other than a few location shots of the New York skyline and a few scenes shot on Liberty Island, none of the movie was filmed anywhere near New York! In fact almost all of the movie was shot in East St. Louis. This old bridge was handy and cheap!

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One interesting thing about this bridge that makes it very unusual is that it has a substantial 22-degree bend in the middle of the river, closer to the Missouri side.

Digressing from Interstate 270 as I approached the mighty Mississippi, I followed the clues in my Rt. 66 book to find Old Chain of Rocks Rd. just south of the highway, and that led me to a sort of park area on Chouteau Island, where I was able to leave my car and walk out onto the old bridge. It was cold out in the middle of the river in March! It was a beautiful and sunny day though, with a crystal blue sky, and it was bracing. I passed a man walking a dog across the bridge but otherwise had the whole scene all to myself. Myself and Snake Pliskin that is.

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This last picture looks roughly southwest from the bridge, downriver, and the city of St. Louis with The Gateway Arch is just out of sight in the distance.

The Working Stiff

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