Looks can be deceiving in this week’s Pic of the Week. This photo was taken in August 2011 and showed a car that wanted to cross this historic through truss bridge, only to be stopped by a Road Closed sign and a bunch of weeds. A tunnel view shot with some colorful reactions from the driver, which starts with …………
You finish the sentence. 😉
About the bridge itself, the Pratt through truss structure spanned the East Branch of the Des Moines River just off US Hwy. 169 north of the Humboldt-Kossuth County line. It was built in 1895 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio and was one of only a handful of bridges left in the state of Iowa that was built directly by Zenas King. His son George E. King established his bridge building company in Des Moines and was responsible for dozens more, many of them are still standing today. Closed in 2010, the structure was removed during the Winter 2016/17. More information and photos of the bridge can be found here.
In connection with the BHC’s 10th anniversary, we’re conducting a campaign to promote historic bridges in terms of preservation, photography, stories and tourism. After the first campaign on the strangest encounter while bridgehunting, our next campaign deals with:
THE FIRST HISTORIC BRIDGE YOU PHOTOGRAPHED.
The question to the readers is: what was the first bridge you photographed and what was your first impression of the structure? The historic bridge must be older than 70 years and you must also describe it.
The first bridge I photographed was this one: The Petersburg Road Bridge in Jackson, Minnesota. The through truss span was built in 1907 and was torn down in 1995 after having been abandoned for 11 years. Although my first photo of the bridge came in 1990 with a camera taking 110-film, this photo was taken with a Kodak camera taking 35mm film in 1992, the time the bridge was fenced off because it was unsafe. The bridge used to be a gathering point for not only my family but for a neighborhood that was located along the West Fork Des Moines River before flooding in 1965 and 1969 forced them to move away. Many people jumped off the bridge and took a swim in the river. The bridge was a meeting point for fishing and grill fests; even so in 1987 when two boys wandered off and got lost for many hours before they were found. My grandma and many neighbors living nearby fought to keep the bridge open for pedestrians in 1985, which was successful. Yet the Great Flood of 1993 sealed its fate as a portion of the bridge collapsed. On February 1st, 1995, a day after I turned 18, the structure was removed. The area has been converted into a recreational area.
Now it’s your turn. What was your first bridge you photographed? Tell us your story and share your photo, either here or on the Chronicles’ facebook page here.
We are still accepting strange encounters while bridgehunting, the story behind it you will find here.
Back in 2011, I had an opportunity to photograph, document and film the Okoboji Bridge, which used to span the Little Sioux River, a few miles west of West Lake Okoboji. It had spanned the strait that connected West and East Lakes as the second crossing between the first (a cable-stayed span with wooden towers) and the third, a single-span arch bridge. The current span, also an arch bridge, still carries US Hwy. 71 between Okoboji and Arnolds Park.
The bridge was damaged by the flooding during my visit and it would have taken a miracle to pull it out and make the necessary repairs in order for it to return to service someday. Most truss bridges damaged by major storms and floods are usually demolished and replaced because the repair costs are “too high,” according to county engineers. However the bridge was taken off the river and dismantled, stored somewhere until an owner would reclaim it and use it for his/her purpose.
According to Mary Dreier, however, the bridge has a new owner. Butch Parks, who owns the Parks Marina conglomerate, recently purchased the bridge. According to the website,
Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji was established in 1983 when Leo “Butch” Parks purchased the then Gibson Sporting Goods. What was once a small fishing boat sales and repair facility, has expanded into a diversified three location business, with marinas, sales, service, storage, boat rentals, pro-shops, and specialty retail stores. Parks Marina on East Lake Okoboji features the World Famous Barefoot Bar. Okoboji Boat Works on West Lake Okoboji features much of the same, along with state of the art boat slips, the world’s largest Fish House, pro-shop and clothing Boutique, and a sandy beach for families to enjoy.
Part of the Parks Marina conglomerate includes a boat sales and service store in Sioux Falls, plus the Central Emporium in Arnolds Park, a shopping mall with over a century’s worth of tradition with small shops that sell food and merchandise typical of the Lakes Region.
Now how does the Okoboji Bridge come into play?
The board of the county historical society recently did a presentation on the bridge and its history, which was well-received by many visitors. It was learned that Mr. Parks bought the bridge a while back with plans to install the crossing over a pond located just outside its East Lake Okoboji location. Already a concrete bridge is in place, according to Google Maps, yet it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to install it either in its place or elsewhere on the grounds. What is known is according to Ms. Dreier, the bridge is currently sitting on the grounds, just outside the large building which stores boats and the like, waiting to be sold and used on the lakes.
What will become of the bridge is unclear. I enquired Parks Marina about the purchase of the bridge and its future use via e-mail, only to get a no response. It could be that the headquarters is still in hibernation and it’s just a matter of a few months until I get a response. It could also be that the owner is not sure what the plans are with the bridge. But in any case, if he does respond, I have some questions for him, which includes:
Why this bridge?
What are the plans for the structure?
To be continued. But for now, enjoy the photos Ms. Dreier took for this article.
This week’s Pic of the Week takes us to Iowa and to this bridge. The Thunder Bridge is one of two Pennsylvania through truss bridges that span the Little Sioux River in Spencer, Iowa. The bridge is the shorter of the two and also the younger, having a length of 164 feet and been built in 1905. Yet the two were built by the same company, the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works Company. They also have other commonality: the sound of rattling wooden planks when crossing it. In the car or even taken from an oblique angle like in this picture taken in 2011, one will hear it clearly. A video taken by another avid bridge fan and fisherman below will show you the sound taken from the car.
Currently the bridge is still open and if you want to get some photos, you can park at the nearby boat access next to the bridge. It’s highly unlikely that the bridge will close to traffic because only a few cars cross it daily. Furthermore, the street which the bridge carries makes a loop and ends a quarter mile to the west at the same highway, which makes truck deliveries easier. If anything, since Clay County has a few very unique but important artefacts, that Thunder will at the very most receive new wooden flooring in addition to the repairs of beams and the like, making it one of the classic examples of in-kind restoration, and one where the wheels will keep on rattling, just like in the pic with the US-Postal Service truck. A real treat if you visit Iowa and happen to pass by this place.
To see more of Iowa’s historic bridges, please visit the facebook website and like to follow. The link is available here.
Australian Traveller that loves to "Roam" our globe, creator of ENDLESSROAMING.COM sharing the experience through word and photography. Currently residing in my home of Newtown Sydney but hope to be back on the road late 2020. Feedback / questions are more than welcome, happy travels