7 votes

Red Bridge


Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #115302


Now abandoned with its stringers and deck removed, the Red Bridge spans the Yellow River northeast of Postville, in Franklin Township. The structure dates to 1920. That year the Allamakee County Engineer designed this 98-foot timber truss--the first bridge at this crossing--estimated its cost at $2,500, and let a series of private contracts for its fabrication and erection. The Worden-Allen Company of Milwaukee provided the structural steel, City Lumber provided the timbers, a man named Ryerson provided the hardware, and local contractor A.L. Powell built the truss. Total cost of the bridge was $2,304.74. Called the Red Bridge, the Yellow River Bridge or Oelberg Bridge locally, this timber truss featured a Pratt configuration, with timber compression members and forged iron tension members. The upper-chord timbers are bolted to the timber verticals using iron plates; the iron eye-rod lower chords are pinned to the verticals. From these pins the floor beams are hung using U-bolts. The Red Bridge carried traffic until its later closure (at an unknown date). The timber deck and stringers were subsequently removed, and the bridge now stands abandoned in deteriorating condition. In the 1850s and 1860s, Iowa's counties were in their formative stages, and for the most part they could ill-afford the expense of substantial iron or masonry bridges for their developing road systems. Instead they opted for wood construction--either in timber pile or timber truss configurations--willingly sacrificing longevity for economy. Without the protective sheathing of covered bridges, timber spans rarely lasted more than twenty years in service, and the worst of the early wood bridges required maintenance after virtually every flood. Although some counties continued to work with wood bridge construction after the turn of the century, most eschewed timber stringer or truss spans. As a result, only a handful of timber covered bridges remains in place today, and all of the timber pile bridges built during the 19th century are gone. The Red Bridge in Allamakee County is distinguished as the last uncovered timber truss remaining in the state. It is unclear whether the existing timbers on the Red Bridge are original or whether some or all have been replaced, but they do appear original. The Red Bridge is today an important resource from what was once a large group of early timber roadway bridges in the state [adapted from Fraser and McWilliams 1992]


Timber through truss over Yellow River on Fuel Hollow Road
Allamakee County, Iowa
Abandoned with deck removed
Built 1920; rehabilitated 1948
- Ainsworth L. Powell of Postville, Iowa (Contractor)
- Ryerson Co. of Chicago, Illinois (Hardware)
- Worden-Allen Co. of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Structural Steel)
Timber and iron 7-panel Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 98.1 ft.
Total length: 128.0 ft.
Deck width: 13.8 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 12.9 ft.
Also called
Yellow River Bridge
Oelberg Bridge
Red School Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.13087, -91.42437   (decimal degrees)
43°07'51" N, 91°25'28" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/628155/4776552 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 96 N., R. 5 W., Sec. 15
Inventory numbers
IA 61360 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 12812 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • September 5, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • July 22, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added description
  • June 18, 2008: Updated by Historic American Engineering Record
  • June 16, 2008: New photos from Historic American Engineering Record



Red Bridge
Posted February 28, 2013, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Red Bridge
Posted February 28, 2013, by Don Morrison

This bridge is listed under the category "Wood Truss (6)". None of the 6 entries is a covered bridge.

The Dungeness River RR Bridge is listed in category "Uncovered Wooden Truss (23)"


It seems that these categories could be merged?