Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (East)

Deck Girder Bridge over Iowa River
Iowa Falls, Hardin County, Iowa

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Name Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (East)
Built By Des Moines, Iowa Falls & Northern Railroad
Contractor Des Moines Bridge & Iron Company of Des Moines
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 380 Feet Total, 100 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 60 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1908
Traffic Count 15 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 147.30
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date March 2021
In 1913, the St. Paul and Kansas City Short Line Railroad built a line directly between Des Moines, Iowa and Mason City, Iowa.
This route immediately became a part of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific. Connecting to St. Paul, Minnesota on the north and Kansas City to the south; the route was known as the Rock Island Spine Line.
Despite the great routing of the line, the Rock Island oftentimes faced financial issues, which led to deferred maintenance of this route.

By the time a judge ordered liquidation of the Rock Island assets, the route was in poor condition. The Chicago & North Western Railway and Soo Line Railroad entered a bidding war to win the Spine Line and its connections to Kansas City.
After the C&NW came out victorious, over a year was spent rebuilding the line to get it back into operating condition. The route opened in 1983, and provided the C&NW with a direct connection to Kansas City.
At Nevada, Iowa; a connection was built to the Clinton Subdivision to allow a connection between major routes. This connection opened up in 1983.
In 1995, the C&NW was purchased by Union Pacific. Today, Union Pacific continues to operate this line as the Mason City Subdivision.

This deck girder bridge crosses high above the Iowa River in Iowa Falls.
Built in 1908, the bridge contains five deck girder spans crossing the Iowa River and a small road. These girders are set on concrete substructures, which tower over the river valley below.
This bridge is one of the largest on the Kansas City-St. Paul "Spine Line", and likely also one of the highest.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with little notable deterioration. Some substructures are beginning to spall.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge. Credit to PhotoLibrarian on Flickr, used with Creative Commons permission.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the large size but common design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the road underneath.

Iowa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (W)
Downstream Steamboat Rock Trail Bridge


Source Type


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

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