The best historic bridges are the ones that are unknown, undocumented and undiscovered, for they are the ones itching to be researched by those who are interested.
A couple weeks ago, as I was looking for some information on another bridge, I happened to stumble on this rather unknown historic bridge by accident. And while this bridge was filed by bridgehunter.com, this historic Iowa structure is very unknown. No historian, like the late James Hippen has touched it. No agency like IowaDOT and Henry County has mentioned it, yet. No information was ever recorded in any historic bridge or building survey. However when this gets out, many historians and bridge lovers will flock to it for pictures to be posted in the social media, the portal that is the most appropriate location to share information and discuss this.
The bridge at hand is a through truss bridge spanning the old channel of the Skunk River. Its exact location is in the Westwood district, a mile west of Mount Pleasant. It is a quarter mile south of the old Hwy. 34, a quarter mile east of Franklin Avenue (County Highway W55) and a half mile northwest of the Henry County Quarry. It used to carry what is now Graham Avenue, which ends 500 feet east of the bridge. Judging by the bird’s eye perspective via Google Map, the bridge appears to have 5-8 panels and pinned connections. Looking at it more closely, it appears to be a Pratt truss. It has been abandoned for many years but may have been fenced off to keep people from approaching the structure (and crossing private property), which would explain why the bridge has been untouched for that long of time.
And that is all we know of the bridge. We have no further information about its appearance up-close, meaning its portal view, truss type, its connections, builder’s plaques and even its total dimensions. Furthermore, we have no information about its history, which is very important as we would like to know whether or not it is elgible for the National Register of Historic Places. We basically know absolutely nothing about the bridge, except for its location. We just know that the river was channeled a century ago to straighten it out and protect the area from flooding. But the rest is completely open for research.
What do we know about the bridge? What does it look like? What about its history?
Comment via mail, in the comment section both here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page. A photo folder will be made for photos of this bridge should you decide to visit the bridge. The main thing is whether the bridge is historically significant to join Oakland Mills Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places.
Can you answer any of these questions and provide some stories and photos? If so, we are ready to read them. Thank you for your help. 🙂
2 thoughts on “Mystery Bridge Nr. 97: The Unknown Truss Bridge at Westword (Iowa)”
I see Luke found a bridge spanning Big Creek on Bridgehunter.com. I think he’s onto something. Specifically, it looks like Google maps has misnamed this waterway. It looks like it is named Big Creek and flows through Big Creek Park. The Skunk is to the west. So this is very likely that bridge Luke found in the early 90s NBI.
Looking at Bing maps, it appears there are other former crossings on this stream, the bridges long gone, except for what appears to be an abandoned RR bridge at 40.926256, -91.550704.
Google even calls this waterway Big Creek east of 215th St., and Skunk River to the west.
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