21 votes

UP - Kate Shelley High Bridge (1901)


Photo taken by Joe Elliott, Summer, 1995

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #121977

Street View 


Deck truss bridge over Des Moines River on Union Pacific Railroad west of Boone
Boone County, Iowa
Built 1899-1901, bypassed in 2007-09
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Carnegie Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Steel Manufacturer)
- E.C. Carter of Chicago, Illinois (Chief Engineer)
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts (Consulting Engineer)
- Gustaf Widell & Co. of Mankato, Minnesota (Stonework)
- W.H. Finley (Principle Assistant Engineer)
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
"The Boone Viaduct has an approximately 300' long, 60' deep deck channel span composed of two deck Pratt trusses with the panels divided into five sub-divided panels by means of sub-verticals which support the middles of the top-chord sections.

"There are four lines of plate girders, two under each track, of a uniform depth of 7'. Beginning on the east end there are two 75' plate-girder spans on a rocker bent; then six 45' plate girder spans, alternating with six 75' plate-girder spans. The 45' plate-girder spans carried on and form the tops of towers consisting of four columns each, rigidly braced together on all sides. The 75' plate-girders span the opening between consecutive towers.

"This bridge is one of the last projects of noted bridge engineer George Morison, who died two years after the structure was built. The bridge was the longest and heaviest viaduct of its time, and may be the longest extant double-track railroad viaduct in the world. It is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

"This document was prepared as part of the Iowa Historic Bridges Recording Project performed during the Summer of 1995 by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). The project was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation. (IDOT)."

Report of the Historic American Engineering Record

Length of largest span: 300.0 ft.
Total length: 2,685.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 17, 1978
Also called
Boone Viaduct
CNW - Boone Viaduct
CNW - Boone High Bridge
UP - Boone Viaduct
Boone High Bridge
CNW - Kate Shelley High Bridge
UP - Boone High Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.05936, -93.97023   (decimal degrees)
42°03'34" N, 93°58'13" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/419722/4656821 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Boone West
Inventory numbers
NRHP 78001207 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 37240 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 6, 2022: New photo from David Shedlock
  • November 30, 2017: New photo from David Shedlock
  • February 25, 2017: New photos from Daniel Barnes
  • February 19, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 24, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • December 27, 2015: New photo from Charles Kuehn
  • January 19, 2014: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • November 24, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder
  • September 4, 2013: New photos from Jason Smith
  • March 28, 2013: New photos from Steve Conro
  • March 28, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • September 21, 2012: New photos from Jann Mayer
  • July 26, 2012: New photos from John Marvig
  • November 18, 2010: New photos from Jason Smith
  • September 28, 2010: New photo from Jacob P. Bernard
  • November 22, 2009: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Railroad Data and Status
  • August 28, 2009: Updated by Nathan Morton: Bridge has been replaced and as of August 2009 all train trafffic is utilizing the new parallel structure
  • August 23, 2009: New photos from Nathan Morton
  • July 9, 2009: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • August 20, 2008: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • August 19, 2008: Added by J.R. Manning

Related Bridges 



Kate Shelley High Bridge
Posted May 29, 2021, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Archived link to the story of Kate Shelley:


Kate Shelley High Bridge
Posted November 30, 2017, by Anonymous

David, your picture is actually of the bridge at Moingona: https://bridgehunter.com/ia/boone/bh52018/

Kate Shelly High Bridge
Posted August 28, 2009, by J.R. Manning (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Nathan and Andy, next time you go visit the Kate Shelley Bridge, please take a drive down to the Des Moines River Wagon Bridge, a couple hundred yards downstream, and get some photos of the repaired structure. Thanks!


By the way, there is a well-written article from the June 2007 issue of the HDR, Inc. internal magazine. It talks about the old bridge, the new bridge, and the story of how Kate Shelley saved an express train in 1881, earning the grateful respect of the passengers on the express, praise from across the country and local residents, not to mention the Chicago & Northwestern. (Kate Shelley even took a job as a station master with the railroad, a position she held until her death in 1912.)

You can read it here: http://hdrinc.com/Assets/documents/Publications/RailLine/jun...

Here's a photo of Kate Shelley:

Kate Shelly High Bridge
Posted March 1, 2009, by Andy Winegar (jitterz [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I went out today to see if I could see the new bridge in use, and what became of the old one. However, the new one is not yet finished. All the towers are done, but about 20% of the steel needs to be erected on the east end. So for now the old bridge is still in use.