Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (West)

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

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Name Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (West)
Built By Illinois Central Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 383 Feet Total, 94 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 55 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1944
Traffic Count 3 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
CN Bridge Number 326.3
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date March 2021
In 1866, the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad began expanding their existing mainline west, from Cedar Falls to Iowa Falls.
This route connected to Dubuque Chicago on the east, making it an important route. In 1867, Illinois Central began to lease the D&SC.

In 1869, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad continued construction west, reaching Sioux City by the end of 1870.
This new construction was in response to a fear by the directors of the D&SC that the Illinois Central would lose interest in the company. Reaching Sioux City promised a large volume of traffic into Chicago.
The route helped develop several major Iowa towns, including Iowa Falls, Fort Dodge and Cherokee.

In 1888, the IF&SC was merged into the D&SC. By 1900, new connections would be open to Omaha, Sioux Falls and Onawa.

Relatively uncommon in the modern world of railroading, the Illinois Central did not fully consume the D&SC until 1946. Despite this, virtually every project was Illinois Central funded until then.
Immediately after this, the IC went to work rebuilding numerous older truss bridges along the line. This route served as the western mainline for the Illinois Central, which had grown to be considerable in size.
In 1972, the IC merged with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf. The ICG dissolved back into the Illinois Central in 1988.

The entire western main line and associated branch lines of the IC were sold to a railroad known as the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad in 1985.
Just 11 years later, the route would again be purchased by Illinois Central. By 1999, the Illinois Central was purchased by Canadian National.
In 2017, Canadian National operates the Cedar Falls-Fort Dodge segment of this line as the Waterloo Subdivision.

This deck girder bridge crosses high above the Iowa River in Iowa Falls.
Built in 1944, the bridge contains six deck girder spans crossing the Iowa River and a small road. The bridge was built to replace an 1895 vintage deck truss. This in turn replaced a wooden covered deck truss, which burned.
The deck girders on the end each use a variable depth, likely to avoid the bluffs below. This gives one end the appearance of being "fishbellied".
The substructures are a combination of encased stone, concrete and a steel tower on either end. The older stone abutments on either end can still be seen.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with little significant deterioration.

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

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

Iowa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream UP Iowa River Bridge (Alden)
Downstream Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (East)


Source Type


Build Date 1972 Illinois Central Iowa Division Track Profile
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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