Emerson Bridge, Riverfront Park combine to create Cape attraction



When does a bridge become a tourist attraction? When it’s a well-designed bridge that crosses the Mississippi River, connecting Missouri and Illinois.

The Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge connects Cape Girardeau (MO) and East Cape Girardeau (IL). It’s a cable-stayed bridge, which means that it uses at least two pylons to house cables that support the deck.

The bridge is attractive. We crossed over to the Illinois side for a photo opp. Looking straight on toward the bridge, the cables give a shiny white impression while the pylons create the letter H.


Cape Girardeau was creative in developing the bridge as an attraction. The city has combined a small walking park with a portion of the old bridge as an overlook. Visitors can spend a considerable amount of time in the area. A short jaunt up river and you are in the riverfront and downtown area. It presents a nice walking opportunity.

The Emerson Bridge replaced the old Cape Girardeau bridge in 2003. It took 15 years to get the bridge approved and designed. Then, in 1996, construction started. Seven years later – following several delays – it opened to the public.

The bridge is named after Missouri Rep. Bill Emerson. He served in the United States House of Representatives 1981-96, when he passed away.

The bridge is beautiful to view during sunset. The pinks and other hues of the setting sun provide a beautiful background to the lit bridge.


The old bridge was built in 1927. It was a continuous truss bridgeextended without hinges or joints across three or more supports.

I think it was ingenious of the area to keep the Missouri-side of the bridge entrance intact. It allowed for a memorial to the old bridge to be created, along with the Mississippi River overlook. A few feet east stands a smaller overlook.


Visitors can take a short walk along the park grounds near the river.


The bridge park area is worth spending some time at. On a nice day or evening, it is a great place to see the river and its offerings.