Rubio Rail Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Skunk River
Rubio, Washington County, Iowa

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Name Rubio Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor (Truss) Phoenix Bridge Company of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Contractor (1910 Girders) Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Works of Milwaukee
Currently Owned By Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
Length 1,275 Feet Total, 150 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss, Deck Girder and Concrete Beam
Substructure Type Concrete and H-Pile
Date Built (Truss) 1902 and 1910, West Approach Rebuilt 2014
Traffic Count 8 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
MILW Bridge Number I-1090
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date January 2018
In 1882, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway began building a line from Savanna, Illinois to Kansas City.
The line in Iowa was completed at a majority by 1885. The route crossed the Mississippi River from Savanna to Sabula, Iowa on a large swing bridge between the two towns.
The line quickly turned south, paralleled the Mississippi River through Clinton, Davenport and Muscatine. Then the line turned southwest, crossing the Cedar and Iowa rivers near Conesville before arriving in Washington, where it crossed a Rock Island line towards Des Moines.
From here, it continued southwest, crossing the Skunk River before arriving in Ottumwa, where it would cross the Des Moines River, and a pair of rail lines.
Continuing on the same southwest trajectory, the line would cross a Rock Island line near Moravia. The line became increasingly hilly and curvy as it approached the Missouri border near Sewal.
By 1887, the Milwaukee Road reached Kansas City; crossing through Missouri and such towns as Chillicothe.
The CM&StP became the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific in 1912 with newly completed Pacific Extension. By 1931, the Rock Island Railroad requested trackage rights along this line between Polo and Lawson, Missouri; as well as from Mosby to Kansas City.
The 1887 Choteau Bridge over the Missouri River was replaced in 1945 by the present Harry S. Truman Bridge.
The line was considered a mainline, connecting to Kansas City to Davenport and Chicago. Few changes were ever seen on the line, although the major one was in 1981. The Milwaukee Road purchased the former Rock Island alignment between Muscatine and Washington and scrapped their own. The Rock Island had fallen the year before.

In 1985, the Milwaukee Road was purchased by Soo Line, who operated the line until 1997 when they sold it to I&M Rail Link. The line then changed hands again in 2002 when Iowa, Chicago & Eastern purchased it, and IC&E was purchased by Canadian Pacific along with Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern in 2008.
Canadian Pacific currently operates this line, although they have continued to explore potential buyers. The line still connects Chicago to Kansas City.

Located east of Rubio, this large 39 span structure crosses the Skunk River.
Originally built in 1902, the bridge featured a large 6-panel pin connected Pratt Through Truss and a pair of 60-foot deck girder spans. In 1910, ten 50-foot deck girder spans approaching on the west, as well as one 40 foot span on the east were added to the structure. 25 concrete deck girder spans also approached on the east, and the entire bridge is set on concrete.
In 2014, the bridge was upgraded, with the concrete girder spans being replaced by modern versions. As part of the replacement, the older piers were built over with new H-pile piers. Unfortunately, these concrete spans were unique to this line and of historical significance. A similar type of bridge can be seen nearby at Dogwood Avenue Bridge.
At the same time, the steel spans of the bridge were upgraded and strengthened. Various minor repairs reinforced the trusses and girders.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. This large bridge is one of the largest structures along this line, which features numerous spans of all types. Recent rehabilitations will keep this span in service for years to come.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the large scale size and truss design.
The photo above is an overview.

Skunk River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Confluence of North and South Skunk Rivers
Downstream RI Skunk River Bridge (Brighton)


Source Type


Build Date Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library
Contractor Phoenix Bridge Works Collection at the Hagley Library and Museum
Contractor Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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