D&W Charles Street Bridge

Steel Stringer Bridge over Charles Street
Oelwein, Fayette County, Iowa

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Name D&W Charles Street Bridge
Built By Chicago Great Western Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By D&W Railroad
Length 40 Feet Total, 20 Foot Largest Span
Width 7+ Tracks
Height Above Ground 9 Feet 9 Inches
Superstructure Type Concrete Encased Beam
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built Ca. 1900
Traffic Count 5 Trans/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date March 2017
In 1886, the Minnesota & North Western Railroad began working on a line from Hayfield, Minnesota to Oelwein, Iowa.
This new line would connect to one mainline at Hayfield, but also serve as the basis for the other mainline between Chicago and St. Paul.

The line would eventually be extended east, connecting to an existing railroad at Dubuque.

However, the line became part of the Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City Railway in 1887, which in turn became part of the Chicago Great Western Railway in 1893.

The line attained mainline status, as it connected several important economies.
The railroad was reorganized as the Chicago Great Western Railroad in 1909, which had several lines through the Midwest.

By 1968, the Chicago Great Western would be purchased by the Chicago & North Western Railway, which had no intentions of keeping a parallel mainline.
In 1981, the entire line between Randolph, Minnesota and Oelwein, Iowa (142 miles total) would be abandoned.

After abandonment, significant sections between Elma, Iowa and the State Line near Taopi, Minnesota would be constructed as the Wapsi Great Western Trail.
The remaining sections are abandoned.

Located in the town of Oelwein, this steel stringer bridge crosses Charles Street.
Built in approximately 1900, the bridge features a pair of concrete encased beam spans. These spans sit on concrete and stone substructures.
The subway here was built to provide a route for cars under the rail yard above. Currently, the bridge is owned by the D&W Railroad.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in poor condition. While one face of the bridge has been replaced, the remainder of the bridge is a dark and narrow underpass.

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


Source Type


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

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