Pella Bascule Bridge

Photo taken in August 2013

While in Marion County, going 10 miles east from the abandoned Hwy. 14 Bridge at Red Rock Lake, one should take some time and visit Pella. With a population of 10,400 inhabitants and a small private college, there are many things that make the city proud. The city is home to Pella faucets, windows and doors. It has the largest windmill in the western Hemisphere with the Vermeer Mill. And given the architecture in the city center, Pella prides itself on its Dutch heritage, as it was founded by Dutch immigrants in 1847.

And when it comes to Dutch architecture, one has to include a double-leaf bascule bridge, right? Like its European cousin, Friedrichstadt, Germany, a Dutch community without a bascule bridge just isn’t Dutch. This has to do with the popularity of these bridges in the country, with a huge concentration of them to be found in the country’s capital, Amsterdam. And while the mayor of Friedrichstadt got his wish with the Blue Bridge, built in the 1990s but functions as an ornament- a gateway to the town- this bridge (in the picture) serves as one of the jewels of the architecture one can see while in Pella.

Located in front of the Hotel Amsterdam between Main and First Streets, this double-leaf bascule bridge has been around for only a short time, spanning a man-made canal. This white-colored bridge does not appear to function as a bascule bridge but as a fixed span with pedestrians using the structure on a daily basis. The bridge is decorated with lighting and flowers, making it an attractive place to visit and even photograph. Yet there is no further information as to when the bridge was built or what the motives were behind this bridge. Was this part of a bigger project, or did the Dutchmen miss their beloved structure so much that they needed a replica to add to the heritage?

This leads to the questions of the origin of the bridge and the Dutch’s obsession towards a bascule bridge. Specifically:

1. When was this bridge built? Was it part of a project to reconstruct the city center?

2. Why are Dutchmen so obsessed with bascule bridges in a community outside the Netherlands? Could the bridge in Pella be one of those bridges that fall into the category?

3. Is the bridge used for a festival or for some other function? Or is it just a ornament to cross, a symbol of the town’s city center?

Put your comments down here or in the Chronicles’ facebook page, together with that of the social network pages dealing with History and Marion County and share your thoughts and facts about this bridge.  More photos of the Pella bascule bridge can be found here.

Many of us indentify ourselves based on a piece of heritage we cannot leave behind when emigrating to a new country. For the Dutch, it’s the architecture and in particular, their double leaves. It makes the author wonder what piece of heritage we cannot live without when moving to another place…. Any thoughts on that in addition to the questions already posted above?



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