Harvey Railroad Bridge

Pratt Through Truss over Former Channel of Des Moines River
Harvey, Marion County, Iowa

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Name Harvey Railroad Bridge
Built By Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of Chicago
Currently Owned By Marion County
Length 600 Feet Total, 149 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track, 1 Road Lane (12.8 Feet)
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1878
Date Rebuilt 1938
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a road)
Current Status Rail To Road
Significance High Significance
Documentation Date February 2017

In 1872, the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad built a 28 mile line from the existing line at Ainsworth, Iowa to Sigourney, Iowa. This new line transversed Washington and Keokuk Counties.

The line was extended west for another 25 miles to Oskaloosa and an additional 25 miles from Oskaloosa to Knoxville in 1876.

The line stayed in the Rock Island name, but was short lived west of Oskaloosa. The line was doomed when a parallel railroad offered service from Oskaloosa, but completed to Des Moines.
This parallel railroad was also Rock Island, meaning the Knoxville branch was abandoned in 1938. East of Oskaloosa stayed in service for years.

The line fell when the Rock Island did, in 1980. The exception was between Keota and Washington, when a shortline by the name of Keota & Washington popped up.

This was short lived, and the Kewash was abandoned by 1988. It was turned into a trail soon there after.

Located in the small town of Harvey, this large through truss bridge crosses a former channel of the Des Moines River.
Built in 1878, the bridge features four large 8-panel pin connected Pratt Through Trusses. These trusses feature a pedimented style of portal bracing commonly associated with Lassig Bridge & Iron Works, and are set onto stone and concrete substructures.
Clayton Fraser did a significant amount of work for Iowa bridges in the early 1990s, including doing an immense amount of research. His documentation of this bridge concluded it was built in 1878 as an original bridge at this location.
The author had been questioning the accuracy of the report. It seemed odd that the bridge would use this style portal bracing, which really did not become common until around 1883. The heavy construction on the structure was also questionable for an 1878 date, particularly on a branch line.
The author had continued researching, trying to find confirmation of this bridges history. Fortunately, the Rock Island Reporter ran an article about this bridge, showing the original plaque that had been stolen. A bridge over the "new" main channel to the east of here was built in 1905.
It appears the style of portal bracing was used because Moritz Lassig was one of the shop engineers at the time for American Bridge Company. The heavy spans also seem to be justified, since this was planned to become a coal hauling connection between Indianola and Washington, which never panned out.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition. Some major deterioration has taken hold on the substructure and superstructures, although it is not too late to correct it. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is virtually a dead end at the east end.

The author has ranked this bridge as being highly significant, due to the unique design and old age.
The photo above is looking east across the bridge.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Wabash Bridge (Durham)
Downstream Tracy Rail Bridge

Detail Views


Source Type


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

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