Forest City Rail Crossing

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Abandoned Railroad Grade
Forest City, Hancock County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Forest City Rail Crossing
Built By Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Iowa Northern Railway
Length 95 Feet Total, 36 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Timber Pile
Date Built 1903
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
IANR Bridge Number 27.84
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date October 2017
In 1884, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls and Northwestern Railway built a 41 mile route connecting Dows, Iowa and Hayfield, Iowa.
Eleven years later, an extension of the line would be built from a point near Garner to Forest City, a short distance of nine miles.
In 1902, the railroad became a part of the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway, which became a part of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway in 1903.
Rock Island used this route as a secondary route, and during the financial struggles of the Rock Island after the 1940s, the route was oftentimes in poor condition.
In 1980, the Rock Island went bankrupt and completely dissolved among trustees. The branch to Hayfield, by then extended to Titonka, was abandoned, as well as a section between Dows and Belmond.
After the dust settled, the Chicago & North Western Railway purchased the route and did some repairs. C&NW became part of Union Pacific in 1995.
UP intended to abandoned this route in 2011, and it was later leased to Iowa Northern. Iowa Northern currently operates this route, and it is now known as the Garner Subdivision.

Located in Forest City, this small girder bridge carries the Iowa Northern across a former Minneapolis & St. Louis track, which has since been removed.
Built in 1903, this bridge features a through girder span, set onto timber piles and approached by trestle spans. This girder span is unique, as it does not have typical stiffening webs found on girders. It also appears that this may actually be a lightweight half girder, a rare design.
It is believed that this is the original span at this location. The line underneath was removed in approximately 1981.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition.

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 Union Pacific Environmental Assessment Documents, submitted to the STB
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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