IC S. Fork Iowa River Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over S. Fork Iowa River
Alden, Hardin County, Iowa

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Name IC S. Fork Iowa River Bridge
Built By Illinois Central Railroad
Contractor McClintic-Marshall Company of Pottstown, Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 104 Feet Total, 50 Foot Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1931 and 1952
Traffic Count 3 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
CN Bridge Number 336.7
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date August 2019
In 1866, the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad began expanding their existing mainline west, from Cedar Falls to Iowa Falls.
This route connected to Dubuque Chicago on the east, making it an important route. In 1867, Illinois Central began to lease the D&SC.

In 1869, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad continued construction west, reaching Sioux City by the end of 1870.
This new construction was in response to a fear by the directors of the D&SC that the Illinois Central would lose interest in the company. Reaching Sioux City promised a large volume of traffic into Chicago.
The route helped develop several major Iowa towns, including Iowa Falls, Fort Dodge and Cherokee.

In 1888, the IF&SC was merged into the D&SC. By 1900, new connections would be open to Omaha, Sioux Falls and Onawa.

Relatively uncommon in the modern world of railroading, the Illinois Central did not fully consume the D&SC until 1946. Despite this, virtually every project was Illinois Central funded until then.
Immediately after this, the IC went to work rebuilding numerous older truss bridges along the line. This route served as the western mainline for the Illinois Central, which had grown to be considerable in size.
In 1972, the IC merged with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf. The ICG dissolved back into the Illinois Central in 1988.

The entire western main line and associated branch lines of the IC were sold to a railroad known as the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad in 1985.
Just 11 years later, the route would again be purchased by Illinois Central. By 1999, the Illinois Central was purchased by Canadian National.
In 2017, Canadian National operates the Cedar Falls-Fort Dodge segment of this line as the Waterloo Subdivision.

Located between Alden and Williams, this deck girder bridge crosses the South Fork of the Iowa River just west of B Avenue.
Built in 1931 and 1952, the bridge consists of a two span deck plate girder, set onto concrete substructures. Two plaques on the east span identify the build date of 1931, as well as McClintic-Marshall as the builder. However, the west span was reportedly built in 1952.
It is unknown why one span was installed here in 1952. However, it looks very similar to the 1931 span, possibly indicating it was relocated here.
This type of bridge is excellent for crossing small streams like this. It is easy to construct and easy to maintain. It appears the east span of the bridge was completed after McClintic-Marshall merged with Bethlehem Steel in 1931.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with no significant defects noted.

The author has rated this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design and small size.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Contractor Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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