Livermore Rail Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over E. Fork Des Moines River
Livermore, Humboldt County, Iowa

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Name Livermore Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 598 Feet Total, 80 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Stone Masonry, Steel and Timber Pile
Date Built Ca. 1900, Rebuilt With Spare Parts 1972
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 15.27
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date January 2019
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 south of Livermore, this large deck girder bridge crosses the E. Fork Des Moines River.
Originally built in approximately 1900, the bridge originally featured three deck girder spans, set onto stone substructures.
However, a massive derailment occurred on the bridge in 1972, destroying the eastern two spans of the bridge. As a response, three mismatched spans were reused from other locations and installed on timber pile piers.
Unfortunately, there is little record of this bridge or where the replacement spans came from. It appears they also date to approximately 1900. The timber pile piers were replaced by steel piles after the Chicago & North Western takeover of this route.
Currently, the bridge consists of four deck girder spans, set onto stone and steel pile substructures. The western span is 80 feet long, and is original to the bridge. The other three spans are 50 feet, 40 feet and 70 feet long, respectively. In addition, the third span from the west features a fishbelly end, unusual on girders. It is approached by several trestle spans. A box car still remains just east of the bridge in the ditch.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.

E. Fork Des Moines River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Algona Rail Bridge
Downstream Dakota City Rail Bridge


Source Type


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

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