Woolstock Rail Bridge

Quadrangular Through Truss Bridge over Eagle Creek
Woolstock, Wright County, Iowa

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Name Woolstock Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago & North Western Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 185 Feet
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 12 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Quadranglar Through Truss and Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1902, Approaches Added 1914
Traffic Count 3 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 43.78
C&NW Bridge Number 2484
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date July 2012 and October 2017
In 1874 the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railway constructed a line from Des Moines to Story City, in central Iowa. It was a narrow guage railroad, later standard in 1880.

The line was continued north by the Toledo & Northwestern Railway in late 1879, and was completed to Blue Earth, Minnesota by 1883. It was a standard gauge line. The entire line came into the Chicago North Western Railway system by 1884. The C&NW owned a large amount of track around Iowa at the time.
The line was a critical C&NW route to connect to the Twin Cities.
Starting from Des Moines, the line would start in downtown, and head north towards Ankeny.
The line would cross the east/west Milwaukee Road mainline at Slater, It would go through Kelley, crossing the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern before arriving in Ames.
In Ames, it would cross Squaw Creek, and the busy C&NW east/west mainline.
Near Story City, it had to cross a high trestle over Keigly Creek, which was later filled and replaced with a stone bridge.
The line continued through Randall, crossed an east/west C&NW branch line in Jewell, and came into Webster City after crossing the Boone River.
In Webster City, it crossed the Illinois Central line again, and left town crossing the Boone River again.
Continuing north, the route went through Woolstock, and in Eagle Grove crossed a Chicago Great Western Line, and had a CNW line towards Humboldt break off.
It crossed another CGW line in Goldfield, and continued through Renwick and Lu Verne.
At Algona, it crossed over another Milwaukee Road main, and continued through Burt and Bancroft before crossing a Rock Island line near Lakota.

It crossed into Minnesota at Elmore, and joined with another CNW line at Blue Earth.

Several sections were abandoned over time. This included:

Ledyard to Blue Earth in 1968, Ledyard to Bancroft in 1978, Burt to Bancroft in 1985, and Ankeny to Ames in 1985.

The C&NW merged into Union Pacific in 1995. Since this merger, the Ankeny to Des Moines route has been abandoned and will be reused a trail.
The remaining segment, from Burt to Ames is known as the Jewell Subdivision.

Located near the town of Woolstock, this large bridge crosses Eagle Creek along County Road C70.
Originally built in 1902, the bridge originally featured a large Quadrangular Through Truss with laced endposts and a distinct M-frame portal. However, it was expanded in 1914, when deck girders were added to either side to replace trestles. The substructures of the bridge consist of concrete and stone.
Trusses like this were common in the Iowa Division, and were oftentimes built around 1902, during a time of rebuilding. The Quadrangular design was a favorite of the entire C&NW system, and many variations still exist today.
Currently, the bridge is operated by Union Pacific. It is highly visible from the nearby county road.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. Little notable deterioration was found on the structure.

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


Source Type


Build Date Chicago & North Western Railway Historical Society Archives
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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