Mystery Bridge Nr. 172: A suspension bridge or a truss bridge? The Mona Bridge

Our 172nd mystery bridge takes us to a ghost town of Mona, Iowa. The village is located one mile south of the Minnesota-Iowa border along US Highway 218 in Mitchell County. A creek passing through the village is Otter Creek. Founded in 1869, the village had a very short life for even though it had been constructed with a few houses, a general store and a school, it was short-lived because of the railroad. There used to be rail service in the village, but by 1910, much of the rail commerce was shifted to neighboring Lyle, Minnesota, which is also at the state border, thus rendering Mona useless. Only 30 people live in Mona to this day and a cemetary is one of only a couple relicts of the village’s past that exists.

The mystery bridge we have here is from a collection by the Hayes family of Austin, MN but was presented by Mitch Helle-Morrissey through the facebook page St. Ansgar Area History. According to the negative presented in the picture, the bridge is located southwest of Mona. The information pinpoints the build date of 1887. Judging by the width of the stream, it appears the suspension bridge may have spanned Otter Creek or another tributary nearby. Had the bridge been SW of Mona, it would have spanned the Cedar River, which is twice the width and the bridge span as shown here would not have made it. Though had it spanned the Cedar River, it would have been at a crossing at Otranto, which had already been established at the time the bridge was built. But let’s say it’s in or near Mona, spanning Otter Creek because of the bridge’s length combined with the stream’s width.

What makes it puzzling is the state of the bridge in the picture. While it may appear that it was a suspension bridge, the decking appeared to have been sagged on one end and straight on the other. There may be a possibility that a truss span, a Truesdell design, may have been built but to stabilize the structure, towers and wire cable were built to uphold the structure and keep it from collapsing. This leads to the question of whether this bridge was originally a truss bridge that was reinforced through suspension cables or a poorly-built suspension bridge that was teetering on the verge of collapse. In any case, locals commenting on this span have memories of people crossing the bridge and considering it dangerous even for pedestrians. Nevertheless, the suspension bridge has been gone for many, many years…..

But since when?

If you have any information about this suspension bridge, especially regarding its history and exact location, feel free to comment about it either here at the Chronicles, on its facebook page or through a pair of facebook pages below, where the article will appear:

St. Ansgar History

Historic Bridges of Iowa


The people at St. Ansgar and those interested thank you for your help in this mystery. Your bridge matters. 🙂