Johnston Trail Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over Beaver Creek
Johnston, Polk County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Johnston Trail Bridge
Built By Des Moines & Central Iowa Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By City of Johnston
Length 323 Feet Total, 35 Foot Main Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Timber Pile
Date Built Ca. 1906
Date Collapsed March 2019
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Collapsed, Awaiting Repairs
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date September 2017
In 1899, the Inter-Urban Railway was constructed to serve Des Moines. This route was built along the north side of Des Moines.
A second line was built from Des Moines to Colfax in 1902. This new 23 mile route followed city streets and the Rock Island Railroad.
Another line, the Perry Route was built in 1906. Extending north out of Des Moines, the route featured two lines; one to Perry and one to Woodward.

By 1922, the IUR was reorganized as the Des Moines & Central Iowa Railway. Near the end of the decade, the route suffered significantly due to the depression.
The first passenger route was discontinued in 1941. Routes to Colfax and Woodward were reduced to freight only.

In 1946, the Woodward and Colfax Branches were abandoned.
By 1948, the route from Granger to Perry was abandoned. The last of the route was discontinued in 1954.

Local trackage around Des Moines was used for freight traffic by the DM&CI until 1981, when it was absorbed by the Chicago & North Western.
After this purchase, most of the lines were abandoned. The remaining routes became part of Union Pacific in 1995, when C&NW was purchased.

Today, portions of the route near Des Moines are trails, while others are operated by Union Pacific.

This small trestle structure carries the Trestle to Trestle Trail across Beaver Creek in Johnston.
Reportedly built in 1906 as part of an opening of a new line, the bridge consists of a pair of deck girders, set onto wooden piers. The bridge is approached by wooden trestle spans.
It is unknown when the deck girders were built, although it seems fairly certain that the girders were moved from elsewhere.
In approximately 2000, the bridge was converted to pedestrian use, which it was used for many years. Unfortunately, the bridge collapsed due to a ice jam in March 2019. It is unknown if the bridge will be replaced eventually.

Overall, the bridge is in good condition. The author has ranked it as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview. As of March 2021, the bridge has still not been replaced.


Source Type


Build Date Estimated based on construction of line

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