ELDORADO, IOWA- Approximately 300 feet west of the Eldorado Truss Bridge, one will find a unique diamond in the rough. Located along the north bank of the Turkey River, the first impression that I had during my visit to the bridge in 2011 (see my previous post) was that there may have been a previous crossing- like most of the bridges in Iowa- whether it was a bowstring arch bridge, a truss bridge built of iron or even a covered bridge. One of these three would have clearly fit the description given the need to cross the river from one bluff to another. However, looking at it more closely, especially at the wingwalls and abutments, it is clearly a concrete beam bridge. Unique is the art deco design on the beam span, which is almost a giveaway as to determining what bridge it is. The beam span has two rectangular shapes with a diamond shape in the middle. Most beam bridges and culverts used geometric shapes on their concrete railings when they were introduced for use beginning in 1910, which puts this structure’s build date right into the area of the first two decades of the 20th century. Spanning a creek that empties right into the river, the span is between 15 and 30 feet, which is typical for a box culvert or short-span beam bridge.
The road that the bridge used to carry seems to have gone along the Turkey River and its north shore, having crossed the river twice- one near the site of Orange Ave. Bridge and one at the crossing at Great River Road. Both of them are two miles apart. While the stretch west of the Eldorado Truss Bridge remains in use as 292nd Street it dead ends at a farmstead before the Turkey River crossing. Only a small stretch east of the bridge exists and while much of it has been removed for farmland, one can trace it to the cylinder piers (or lally columns) of the former crossing that is next to Great River Road. A map on the Eldorado Truss Bridge page can help you trace ist origins (click here).
This leads to the following question to be cleared up:
When exactly was the bridge built and by whom?
When was the street, now known as 292nd Street, built and where did it lead to?
What do we know about the former crossings at Great River Road and Orange Avenue, where the former road crossed before joining other streets? We do know with the lally columns at the Great River crossing it was a through truss bridge but what type is unknown…
When was the street and the bridge abandoned?
Any photos, stories and history behind this unique bridge and road would be much appreciated. There are three ways to do it: by e-mail, using the contact info here. By posting in the comment section. And by posting in one of the facebook pages:
NOTE: For the third page, the platform has changed after a successful campaign to save the truss bridge spanning the Raccoon River. The page now focuses on historic bridges in Iowa, which includes truss and bowstring arch bridges as well as others. Click onto the link and like to follow. Despite facebook’s insistence on keeping the old name, it will eventually change to reflect on the focus on historic bridges in the state.
While we are still in Iowa, here’s another Pic of the Week. Yet this time, we travel to Fayette County in eastern Iowa and the town of Eldorado. Located between Calmar and West Union along the Turkey River, the village is tucked away in the hills of the Bluffs Region, which extends from southeastern Minnesota into the eastern part of Iowa, where all creeks and rivers empty into the Mississippi River. Eldorado has about 200 people and a few historic buildings, but one unique truss bridge. The Eldorado Truss Bridge is a Camelback through truss bridge with M-Frame portal bracings. It was built in 1899 by J.C. Ratcliff, a local bridge builder based in Waukon in Allamakee County and is the only known bridge built by the engineer to date. The 130-foot long bridge has been closed to traffic for a couple decades, yet still remains its historic integrity to date. It can still be accessed from the State Street side and if one is lucky, one can find some shells along the Turkey River, which was my case upon my visit in August 2011. Despite record rainfall in the spring, which caused massive flooding along the Missouri River, water levels receded to a point where one could walk along the river and get a few shots from the river bed, something that was done on a perfect afternoon, while traveling through Iowa.
As a bonus though, there is one bridge nearby, whose mystery has yet to be solved. More on that in the next article here. 🙂
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us back to 2011 and the state of Iowa. This time to Spencer, where one of two Pennsylvania through trusses still exist. The Dump Road Bridge (also known as Old Rusty) spans the Little Sioux River at 18th Avenue west of the city. Built by the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company in 1901, Old Rusty was brought here in 1915 after having served Main Street crossing the same river along with another through truss span for 14 years. That crossing was replaced with a multiple-span arch bridge which was replaced by the current structure in 2008. Old Rusty still serves traffic but as a light-weight three ton crossing. Fitting to its location as very few cars cross the bridge. However, due to its age, one has to start considering its prospects as a bike/pedestrian crossing in the long-run.
This pic of the week is a throwback to eight years ago and back to the States. Here, this photo was taken by chance on a hot and muggy day, as this gentleman does his run towards the Skunk River Bridge east of Ames, Iowa. The structure features two Warren trusses- one pony and one through, though the through truss bridge dates back to 1876, whereas the pony truss was added when the former was brought to this location in 1916. Since then, the bridge has served foot traffic and nothing beyond it. Shortly after the photo was taken, a thunderstorm came about, which meant the runner may have been looking for shelter, yet it is unknown.
If you were running and was caught in a thunderstorm at this site, what would your reaction be and what would you do? Feel free to comment. 🙂
If interested in knowing more about the bridges of Ames, check out this tour guide here.
After record-setting snowfall and cold in the Midwest of the US, residents and farmers are bracing for what could be flooding of biblical proportions. Already in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin, one can see fields converted into lakes and piles of broken ice from rivers and lakes littering streets and Highways. Billions of Dollars in property lost are expected as floodwaters and ice have destroyed farms and killed livestock, while many houses are underwater with thousands of residents displaced. Highways and especially bridges have been washed away, while other forms of infrastructure have caved in under the pressure of high water caused by snowfall, ice on the ground and massive amounts of precipitation. For residents in Minnesota, North Dakota, Illinois and regions along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, where people are sandbagging their homes and communities, while others are evacuating, the scenes out west are a preview of what is yet to come.
The same applies for many historic bridges and other key crossings, for reports of bridges being washed away by flooding or crushed by ice jams are cluttering up the newsfeeds, social media and through word of mouth. While dozens of bridges have been affected, here’s a list of casualities involving all bridges regardless of age and type that have come in so far. They also include videos and pictures. Keep in mind that we are not out of the woods just yet, and the list will get much longer before the floodwaters finally recede and the snow finally melts away. For now, here are the first casualties:
Bridge Casualty List:
Trolley Bridge in Des Moines, Iowa: Spanning Beaver Creek north of I-35 between Iowa’s State Capital and nearby Johnston, this railroad trestle with two deck plate girder spans used to serve a trolley line going along the creek to the northwest. The line and the bridge were converted into a bike trail in 2000. On Wednesday the 13th, an ice jam caused by high water knocked over the center pier, causing the two deck plate girders to collapse. Two days later, the spans floated down the river with no word on where they ended up. No injuries reported. It is unknown whether the bridge will be rebuilt.
Highway 281 Bridge in Spencer, Nebraska: The Sandhills Bridge, spanning the Niobrara River was built in 2003. The multiple-span concrete beam bridge is located south of Spencer Dam. It should now be reiterated as a „was“ as the entire bridge was washed away completely on Monday the 11th. A video shows the bridge being washed away right after the dam failure:
The main culprit was the failure of the Spencer Dam, caused by pressure from high water and ice. It is unknown when and how both the failed will be rebuilt, even though sources believe the bridge will be rebuilt and open by September.
Carns State Aid Bridge in Rock County, Nebraska: This Niobrara River crossing consists of five arch spans, a Parker through truss and a Pratt through truss- both of them were brought in in 1962 to replace a sixth arch span and several feet of approach that were washed away. The bridge ist he last surviving structure that was built under Nebraska’s state aid bridge program and is listed on the National Register. It may be likely that a couple additional spans will be needed as the south approach going to the truss span was completely washed away in the floods. Fortunately, the rest of the bridge is still standing.
Sargent Bridge:Residents in Custer County, Nebraska are mourning the loss of one of its iconic historic bridges. The Sargent Bridge was a two-span, pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Howe lattice portal bracings supported by 45° heels; its overhead strut bracings are V-laced with 45° heels as well. Built in 1908 by the Standard Bridge Company of Omaha, using steel from Illinois Steel, this 250-foot long span was no match for large chunks of ice, floating down the Middle Loup River, turned the entire structure into piles of twisted metal. This happened on the 14th. While a photo showed only one of the spans, it is unknown what happened to the other span. One variable is certain: The loss of this historic bridge is immense.
Green Mill Bridge near Waverly, Iowa:Time and wear took a toll on this two-span bowstring through arch bridge, which spanned the Cedar River between Janesville and Waverly. A product of the King Bridge Company, the bridge was part of a three-span consortium in Waverly when it was built in 1872. 30 years later, two of the spans were relocated to a rural road northeast of Janesville, where it survived multiple floods, including those in 1993 and 2008. Sadly, it couldn’t survive the ice jams and flooding that took the entire structure off its foundations on the 16th. Currently, no one knows how far the spans were carried and whether they can be salvaged like it did with the McIntyre Bridge in Poweshiek County. The Green Mill Bridge was one of only two multiple-span bowstring arch bridges left in the state. The other is the Hale Bridge in Anamosa.
Jefferson Viaduct in Greene County, Iowa: The Raccoon River trestle features a through truss span built by Lassig Bridge and Iron Works and trestle approach spans built by the both Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Works and the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works Company. The 580-foot long bridge used to serve a bike trail until Friday the 15th when ice took out several feet of trestle approach. Fortunately, the through truss span is still in tact. Given its location though, it may take months until the trestle spans are replaced.
Photo taken by Jerry Huddelson
Turkey River Railroad Bridge at Millville, Iowa: This railroad span, located near 360th Street in Clayton County, has not had the best of luck when dealing with flooding. The two-span through truss span was destroyed in flooding in 1991 and subsequentially replaced by three steel girder spans. Two of them were washed away in flooding in 2008 and were replaced. Now all three spans are gone as of the 15th as flooding washed them all out. The rail line, owned by Canadian Pacific, has been shut down until a replacement span is erected with the freight trains being rerouted. It does raise a question of whether having a span in a flood-prone area makes sense without raising the railroad line.
Dunham Park Bridges in Sioux Falls, South Dakota: One of the first cities hit by ice jams and flooding, Sioux Falls was almost literally underwater with floodwaters at every intersection and street as well as the Falls being converted into an apocalyptic disaster, resembling a dam failing and the waters of the Big Sioux River wiping out everything in its path. One of the hardest hit was seen with Dunham Park as floodwaters washed away two mail-order truss bridges almost simultaneously. A video posted in social media on the 14th showed how powerful the floodwaters really were. The bridges were installed only a few years ago. It is unknown if other bridges were affected as crews are still battling floods and assessing the damage. It is however safe to say that the park complex will need to be rebuilt, taking a whole summer or two to complete.
There will be many more to come, as the weather gets warmer, accelerating the snowmelt and making the situation even more precarious. We will keep you informed on the latest developments. But to close this Newsflyer special, here’s a clip showing the raging Big Sioux River going down the Falls in Sioux Falls, giving you an idea of how bad the situation is right now:
That in addition to a reminder to stay away from floodwaters. Signs and barricades are there for one reason- to save your life. Think about it.
Our thoughts and prayers to families, friends and farmers affected severely by Mother Nature’s wrath- many of them have lost their homes and livelihoods and are in need of help. If you can help them, they will be more than grateful…… ❤