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Meet the Builders of the Gateway Arch

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With the new Gateway Arch National Park open, we’re sharing stories from all the workers and visitors to the park and museum. On Saturday October 27, the Gateway Arch hosted its annual Builders Reunion event, commemorating the 53rd anniversary of the placing of the keystone in the Gateway Arch and the workers who constructed the monument. For more stories from people at the Gateway Arch, follow @GatewayArchPark on Instagram or the hashtag #YourArch.

“It great! This is the first one he’s been able to come to. We’ve been trying to get him since here the fiftieth. We’re so proud of him… because I remember him working here. And you just knew it was a special project. He’ll tell you he welded every piece of the tram.”

Do you brag about him - your dad?

“Anytime someone mentions the Arch! When I went to school, I told all my friends that my dad built the Arch. He has a film of the inside of the Arch being constructed, and the library of congress just authenticated it. It might be the only film of the interior being built.”

- Gina Maness of St. Louis

Dave Maness worked as a welder on the Gateway Arch's tram system.
Dave Manness (right) working at the Gateway Arch

Dave Maness (father of Gina Maness) at the Gateway Arch Builders Reunion and in photographs of him working (right) on the Gateway Arch's construction. 

“I found out about the event in the paper and thought I got to go to that. You really get their perspective on how they felt working on an icon for the city - and really for the county.”

Did you learn anything new?

“The high difficulty of the project. Though they didn’t feel like it was at the time. It was so different from today. No OSHA. I came down every weekend that summer to see the Arch after going to games at Busch Stadium One with my dad. We had to go down to see the Arch!”

- Bob Sager of St. Louis

“My grandfather Walt Riggle was the welder for the Arch. This is really satisfying because finally got this done (the Baby Arch Project in Warren, Pennsylvania). A lot of people in Warren don’t know that we got this done (the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri). We want to keep that history going.”

- Walt Atwood of Warren, Pennsylvania

Boilermaker employees of the Pittsburgh-Des Moines (PDM) Steeel Company in Warren, Pennsylvania fabricated the above ground segments of the Gateway Arch, which were transported by train to St. Louis and assembled by construction workers on site.

“I love it. I hope they don’t stop the reunions. My job was wiring the trams. It was fun. I was everywhere they could run wires. It was a once in a lifetime job.”

- Everett Myers of De Soto, Missouri.

“We were in Connecticut and the architect was in Michigan. We were the MEP – the engineers on the power for the air compressors, lifts, and lights on the train. That was the challenge - how to get power to a moving vehicle. When I finally came to visit, the sheet metal guys were still working. So I rode up with the person who designed the elevator – Dick Bowser.”

How did you solve the challenge?

“Well, it’s an old industrial apparatus. An electric brush runs to it. It’s an old system that also runs trains through brick-making ovens.

- Charles Billmeyer of Manchester, Connecticut