Steamboat Rock Trail Bridge

Deck Girder Bridge over Iowa River
Steamboat Rock, Hardin County, Iowa

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Name Steamboat Rock Trail Bridge
Built By Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Hardin County
Length 236 Feet Total, 60 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Built 1926
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
M&StL Bridge Number 220
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date September 2017
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 Steamboat Rock.
Built in 1926, the bridge contains three deck girder spans crossing the Iowa River and a trail. The bridge was likely built to replace a truss.
The substructures are a combination of stone and concrete. In addition, the bridge is approached by trestle spans.

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 trail underneath.

Iowa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Iowa Falls Rail Bridge (E)
Downstream Iowa River Trail Bridge (Union)


Source Type


Build Date American Bridge Company plaque
Contractor American Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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