Goldfield Stone Arch

Stone Arch Bridge over Buttermilk Creek
Goldfield, Wright County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Goldfield Stone Arch
Built By Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railroad
Engineer Elmer J.C. Bealer
Quarry Location Cedar Valley, Iowa
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 25 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Stone Arch
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1900
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date October 2017
In 1873, the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway began building a branch line from their existing mainline at Vinton, Iowa to Traer.
The line would be extended in 1877 to Holland, 25 miles past Traer.

In 1880, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northwestern Railway began building from Holland to Iowa Falls, another 26 miles.
They continued and reached Clarion the same year.
1881 saw the 58 mile expansion from Clarion to Emmetsburg, and 1882 an additional 50 miles from Emmetsburg to Lake Park, via Estherville.

Lake Park was the terminus of this line, although other branches extended, including one towards Watertown, South Dakota.

The Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northern would be sold to the Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern in 1902.

The BCR&N would in turn be sold to the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific (Rock Island) in 1903.

The Rock Island was one of the main railroads in Iowa, and their empire nearly doubled after the acquisition of the BCR&N.

However, the Rock Island became a poor railroad by the 1970s. By 1980, the Rock Island would be forced to abandoned their entire empire in Iowa, and liquidate as part of their bankruptcy deal.

This line became chopped up significantly. The Sibley to Lake Park to Estherville segment was purchased by Iowa Northwestern Railway, which would eventually abandoned in 2005.

The Chicago & North Western Railway purchased 3 segments:
Estherville to Goldfield
Clarion to Dows
and Iowa Falls to Alden

The Iowa Northern Railway, who purchased the entire mainline from Cedar Rapids to Manly also purchased the Vinton to Dysart segment, which would be abandoned in 2003.

The C&NW was purchased by Union Pacific in 1995, who now owns the remaining three segments as their Dows and Alden Industrial Leads, as well as their Estherville Subdivision. Portions of the route in Grundy County are known as the Pioneer Trail.

Located in the town of Goldfield, this large stone arch bridge crosses Buttermilk Creek.
Although no date carving could be found on the bridge, further research found that this bridge was built in 1900. Using a single stone arch span, the bridge was designed by Elmer J.C. Bealer, and built with stone quarried in Cedar Valley, Iowa.
While most stone arches typically follow a horseshoe shape, this one has a significantly more egg shape to it. This creates an unusual appearance, as the span is particularly long.
This actually was the final stone arch ever constructed for the BCR&N. After this, they would switch to using brick and concrete, a design that has not held up nearly as well.
Currently, the bridge is owned by Union Pacific. It has had little alterations since construction.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with little major deterioration. Unfortunately, some stone blocks have begun to shift, although this does not appear to pose an immediate threat to railroad operations.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the unusual twist on a common design.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


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

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