Wabash Bridge (Harvey)

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Des Moines River
North of Harvey, Marion County, Iowa

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Name Wabash Bridge (Harvey)
Built By Wabash Railroad
Contractor (Outer Spans) Pencoyd Bridge & Construction Company of Pencoyd, Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By Marion County
Length 545 Feet Total, 153 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track, 1 Traffic Lane
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss and Steel Stringer
Substructure Type Concrete, Steel Caisson and Timber Pile
Date Fabricated (Outer Spans) 1892
Date Fabricated (Inner Span) 1888
Original Location (Outer Spans) Bridge #665; Wabash River Bridge, Attica, Indiana
Original Location (Inner Span) Bridge #749; S. Fork Sangamon River Bridge, Hewittsville, Illinois
Date Erected 1923-1924, Approach Added 1943
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rail to Road
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date February 2017
In 1881, the Des Moines & St. Louis Railway built a line from the Iowa/Missouri border south of Moulton to Des Moines.

This line twisted and turned as it went up the state. It served as an important connection to Missouri for the Minneapolis & St. Louis railway company.

The line crossed the Des Moines River near Red Rock and continued north, coming into Des Moines via Pleasant Hill.

The line was quickly absorbed by the Wabash Railroad.

In addition, a branch line served Ottumwa. This line was built in 1881 and abandoned in 1981.

Much of this line was abandoned throughout the 1950s. The bridge over the Des Moines River was sold to Marion County in 1952.
Today, Norfolk Southern uses the line with BNSF. A bridge was built across the Des Moines River near Runnells in 1968.

Located near the lost town of Durham, this large through truss bridge once carried the Wabash Railroad over the Des Moines River.
Built between 1923 and 1924 with relocated spans, this bridge consists of three large pin connected Pratt Through Truss spans. The two outer spans are each 6-panel pin connected Pratt Through Trusses, each 153 feet in length. These were confirmed to have come from spans "C" and "D" of an 1892 bridge over the Wabash River at Attica, Indiana; and were shortened from 154 feet and moved here in 1924.
In addition to these two spans, a third span from Attica ended up near Silver City, in southwest Iowa.
The center span is a 150 feet long, 8-panel pin connected span, which dates to 1888. This bridge came from the "Half Acre" bridge near Hewittsville, Illinois. It is lighter than the other two spans, and was moved here in 1923. Oliver Iron & Steel Company is the builder of the span. During the relocation, the portal bracing on this bridge was replaced to conform with required clearances.
The substructures of the bridge include steel caissons, concrete and timber piles. The steel piers all date to the original 1881 construction. The southernmost wooden pile pier and concrete pier were both built in 1923-1924.
Originally, the bridge had significant trestle approaches on either side. However, these spans were replaced in 1943 by the current steel stringer spans.
After Lake Red Rock was filled in 1968, the Wabash Railroad abandoned the route and sold the bridge to Marion County, who converted it to road use in 1971. The bridge was bypassed in 2002. It is currently closed to vehicle traffic, and slowly corroding away. It is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
While Clayton Fraser did a historic survey of Iowa bridges in the early 1990s, his findings for this bridge are almost certainly incorrect. Railroad documents provide no mention of the bridge being from 1882, and the bridge was not converted to a road until 1971. Fortunately, a site report prepared for Marion County includes documents that confirm the above information on this bridge.
Currently, the bridge is open to pedestrians only. Unfortunately, the approaches and deck are in fairly poor condition. However, Marion County is not allowed to actively destroy the bridge, although without maintenance, it will eventually become a hazard.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique design and relocated trusses.
The photo above is an overview.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges
Upstream BNSF Des Moines River Bridge (Swan)
Downstream Harvey Bridge

Detail Views


Source Type


All Information Iowa Historic Property Study: Iowa Site Inventory No. 63-00240
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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