Workmen's Elevator

The workmen's elevator car rising up the creeper derrick track
A unique temporary elevator system was devised to transport workmen up and down during the project. This system, designed by Marshall Elevator Co., had several unusual features - a travel path that could be extended as construction of the Arch progressed, an interference-free radio control inside the car that eliminated the need for collector rails or hanging electrical cables, and a device to keep the cab level.

One creeper derrick track on each leg served as the guide for the elevator car. Two hoist cables, attached to the top of the car, led directly up one track beam to the base of the creeper derrick, across the 24-foot span to the other track beam, then down to the base, and horizontally to separate drums on a hoist at ground level.

The elevator consisted of a main structural-steel frame or sling to which was welded the structural steel sub-frame that supported the tiltable cab. The main frame was held to, and guided by, the flange of the track beam by means of two sets of six steel rollers mounted at the top and bottom of the frame. A specially designed tilt-sensing mechanism and a motor-operated leveling device kept the cab level at all times.

The Memorial development was financed jointly by the Federal Government and the City of St. Louis on a ratio of $3 to $1. The Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District, in a contract with the National Park Service, the owner, financed the transportation system within the Arch.

The architects were Eero Saarinen and Associates, in cooperation with Severud, Elstad, Krueger and Associates for the structural engineering. The prime contractor was the MacDonald Construction Company of St. Louis. Fabrication and erection of the Arch was done by the Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Company, subcontractor to MacDonald.

Acknowledgment is due to the many people who carried out the construction and erection of this monument with care and precision - the structural men, electricians, steamfitters, sheet metal journeymen, and others who risked life and limb in using their skills to meld all the component parts together into a lasting monument for the inspiration of future generations. Although it was estimated that 13 workers might lose their lives on the project, there were no fatalities. The dedication and determination on the designers, engineers and workers on the Arch echoed the pioneer spirit of those in commemorates, the people who explored and settled the American West.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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