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Wagon Wheel Bridge

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Photos 

Photo taken by J.R. Manning

Map 

Street View 

The Significance of the Des Moines River Wagon Bridge 

Condensed from a report prepared for HAER in 1995

"This bridge is one of the few remaining large-scale wagon trusses in Iowa. A locally important crossing of a major river, it is one of the few multiple span pin-connected Pratt trusses remaining in the state. One of its four spans is a long-span Pennsylvania through truss, an important sub-type of the Pratt truss.

"The Wagon Bridge is an approximately 703' four-span steel bridge composed, begining at the east end, of a timber stringer approach span of about 160', one approximately 124' pin-connected Pennsylvania through truss, one approximately 200' pin-connected Pratt through truss, and one approximately 96' pin-connected Pratt through truss. The roadway width is 16'-0" and has a timber deck. The substructure consists of concrete-filled steel cylindrical piers with plate or bar diaphragms, and a concrete abutment at the west end. This abutment was originally constructed of stone, and may have been originally covered with concrete.

"The main span of this bridge is one of the oldest and best preserved large wagon trusses in Iowa. The bridge continues to serve as a locally important stream crossing, and also serves as an excellent example of the work of a very prolific and important Iowa bridge company, about which relatively little is known."

This document was prepared as part of the Iowa Historic Bridges Recording Project performed durng the Summer of 1995 by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). The project was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). Preliminary research on this bridge was performed by Clayton B. Fraser of Fraserdesign, Loveland, CO.

--Robert W. Jackson, August 1995

Facts 

Overview
Through truss bridge over Des Moines River on 200th Street west of Boone
Location
Boone County, Iowa
Status
Remaining spans demolished December 2, 2016
History
Built 1909; closed to vehicle traffic in 2008 due to flood damage on an approach span; center pier damaged by ice on February 22, 2016 with one span collapsing on March 10, 2016. Remaining spans demolished December 2, 2016.
Builders
- Carnegie Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Metal Manufacturer)
- Inland Steel Co. of East Chicago, Indiana (Metal Manufacturer)
- Iowa Bridge Co. of Des Moines, Iowa (Builder)
- Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania & Woodlawn, Pennsylvania (Metal Manufacturer)
- Lackawanna Steel Co. of Lackawanna, New York (Metal Manufacturer)
Design
Pennsylvania through truss and three Pratt through truss spans consisting of Portal bracings are all A-frame
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 200.1 ft.
Total length: 703.1 ft.
Deck width: 16.1 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.7 ft.
Recognition
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Bluff Creek Bridge
Wagon Bridge
Des Moines River Bridge
Boone Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.06296, -93.96936   (decimal degrees)
42°03'47" N, 93°58'10" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/419798/4657221 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Boone West
Land survey
T. 84 N., R. 27 W., Sec. 26
Inventory numbers
IA 77850 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 98000765 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 12895 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 05/2007)
Deck condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 15.7 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2007)
80

Update Log 

  • February 25, 2017: New photo from Daniel Barnes
  • December 3, 2016: Updated by Andy Winegar: Changed status to Demolished to reflect final demolition of remaining spans
  • August 8, 2016: New photo from Kevin Skow
  • July 2, 2016: New photo from Kevin Skow
  • March 16, 2016: New photos from Dan Berg
  • March 11, 2016: New photos from Kevin Skow
  • March 10, 2016: Updated by Kevin Skow: Western span of the bridge collapsed today.
  • February 23, 2016: New photo from Kevin Skow
  • February 22, 2016: Updated by Kevin Skow: Updated status based on ice jam damage and county engineer report
  • June 2, 2015: New photos from Kevin Skow
  • January 30, 2015: Updated by Dave King: Added category "Lally columns"
  • May 15, 2014: New photos from Lee Smith
  • September 12, 2013: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 16, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • May 15, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Bridge is now open to pedestrians!
  • October 11, 2012: Updated by Jason Smith: Added category "A-frame portal"
  • October 19, 2010: Updated by Jason Smith: Changed the name of the bridge and added some info on it
  • July 30, 2010: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • February 19, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated bridge data
  • October 5, 2009: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added alternate name
  • August 20, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • August 19, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated NRHP Listing
  • July 8, 2008: Updated by Kim Harvey: updated status on bridge
  • March 25, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added historical data

Sources 

Comments 

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted December 1, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The end of the Wagon Wheel Bridge came today. https://www.facebook.com/139120672925720/videos/654240111413...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 22, 2016, by Luke

Looks nice, Kevin!.

I need to find something to do with my sliver of decking from the Dinkey Bridge.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 22, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Little keepsake piece from the bridge is almost done. The base is from the bridge decking.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 8, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A memorable night watching fireflies dance around the remaining east spans of the Wagon Wheel Bridge last month.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted July 6, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Jason - Sent you an email a few days ago about your request.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted July 4, 2016, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

You think you can save me a piece to be shipped back to Minnesota, Kevin? I have a lot of fond memories of the bridge and I would like to keep at least a small relict of the bridge as a memory of how we tried and save it. Please send me an e-mail about this. Thanks. JS

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted July 1, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The western two spans have been completely removed and the area cleaned of all debris. A 4-5 foot dirt berm has been placed between the road and where the bridge used to stand. The concrete base of the western approach is the only portion of the bridge that was left. While the area under the bridge has been filled and cleaned-up, I traced the path that the dismantled bridge was hauled up the embankment to the road and found a few token fragments of the truss. This riveted piece from one of the verticals (I think from the section that collapsed judging by the water damage to the metal) was the best that I could find.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted June 29, 2016, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

This is a shame, but it is the destination for every abandoned bridge at some point. I know that Lally Columns are a part of our engineering history, but they are vulnerable to disasters.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted June 29, 2016, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Summary of the events involving the bridge removal. Any ways of saving and relocating the Pennsylvania span, now's the time....

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2016/06/29/wagon-wheel...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted June 28, 2016, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

I find it really sad that it had to come to this. Here's another bridge that seemed to be unwanted by the county and the vandals who torched the structure last fall sealed the bridge's fate. An act of cowardess from those who think that rules don't apply to them, when in all reality, they do. RIP Wagon Wheel, I just wished we would've done something much earlier to save you girl. :~(

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted June 28, 2016, by Nathan Holth (nathan [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Partial demolition (collapsed portion) with total demolition (undamaged spans) to follow. http://amestrib.com/news/west-half-wagon-wheel-bridge-has-be...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted March 10, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Sad is truly an understatement. I'll miss this bridge. Aerial photos are posted at: https://www.facebook.com/WagonWheelBridge/

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted March 10, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Very sad.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted March 10, 2016, by Luke
Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted March 2, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 28, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A comparison of 1930s aerial imagery and 2015 satellite imagery from the ISU GIS page shows just how much the river has shifted over the course of the bridge's life. When first constructed, the main channel was under the east Pennsylvania truss and the west river bank was located at the center of the bridge, with two trusses over dry land on the west side of the river. Now, the main channel is near the center pier that shifted recently. The west bank of the river was rocked some time ago, so the channel hasn't changed much since the 70s or 80s. Given the amount of scouring that has taken place around that pier and how it was not intended to be in the middle of the river, it is probably a miracle that the bridge has lasted so long.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 27, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 25, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Art... yeah as seen in the photos the trusses themselves are not beyond saving. The iron was in great shape prior to the incident. The problem (or cost) would definitely be finding a way to non-destructively recover the trusses without putting workers in danger...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 25, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Nathan,

To me, the trusses look like they could be easily repaired (the droop may be merely elastic distortion) if someone clever was involved. However, I wasn't sure if the caisson had shifted. The caisson shift adds significantly to the complexity to the repair required. If it was just the truss, it might have been cheaper to reset the truss than remove it.

As you point out, this is a money issue - no money for simple fixes/maintenance before; no way are they going to save it now.

Also, depending on the depth of the water, one could put barges under the spans and float them off rather than 'drop and drag.' Unfortunately, without preservation interest, it isn't going to happen.

Regards,

Art S.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 24, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Art.. Even without further floods, pure physics (caisson half tipped over with end post completely dislodged off caisson) might cause the collapse of one or more spans. It could collapse at any time. This limits options and increases risk. Even if it didn't collapse I doubt the county has the needed money. This is a classic case where there was a perfect opportunity to preserve the bridge only a couple years ago before this occurred, but either nobody had the money or nobody at the time cared. Sadly, I expect this bridge will be dropped into the river and dragged out with excavator and cut up and scrapped like so many rural truss bridges.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 24, 2016, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Cool aerial view:

http://www.kwbg.com/2016/02/23/county-continues-to-monitor-s...

Silly question: Is this just an issue of money (no one besides those on this board would consider spending money on an old abandoned bridge) or is the damage much more severe that it looks?

Assuming it doesn't collapse during the next ice floe, would it be possible to bring in a barge and jack the span back into place or has the pier shifted?

Regards,

Art S.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 24, 2016, by Don Morrison

Nooooo!

So sad. I have so many memories of canoeing, tubing, fishing the west bank and even a bonfire on the sand bar that was on the east bank under this bridge.

Had a friend from Kiel, Germany with an SLR who liked to take moonlight photos of trains crossing the old Kate Shelley High bridge. We spent a lot of time around the two bridges.

Here's a shot through the car window of the bridge on February 22nd, 2009, the last time we visited. The new Boone viaduct was under construction.

Also a closeup of that killer Des Moines River ice at the boat ramp north of Boone water works dam.

Much happier times.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 23, 2016, by Robert Elder

I hope that will buff out. Otherwise,this is going to be another big loss.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 23, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

You have heard of "dead man walking" Well this is "collapsed bridge standing" the entire end post is off the caisson!

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 23, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A video of today's flight around the stricken bridge can be found at: https://youtu.be/inypud_wh6g

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 23, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The county seems very adamant on keeping people away from the dying bridge. Both approaches are barricaded about a half mile from the bridge, making it difficult getting to the span. Here is an aerial comparison of the western pier now and back in August, showing how much it shifted.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 23, 2016, by Luke

Another ice jam broke in Fort Dodge. It's only a matter of time.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 22, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Based on the photos it is clear the bridge is now in extreme risk for collapse... at the same time it is sad and frustrating to see this happen because its basically a way to avoid Section 106 and other preservation efforts, demolition by neglect essentially. This was an outstanding, rare multi-span bridge that could have and should have been preserved. It deserved so much more than to be left until scour and/or floods tore apart the caissons.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 22, 2016, by Lee Smith

It looks like this is a doomed bridge as of today. Here is a link to the Boone New Republican. A county engineer has stated it will be brought down in the next 12 months due to safety concerns.

http://newsrepublican.com/news/local/ice-jams-causing-damage...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 22, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Ice Damage to the Wagon Wheel bridge this morning. As of early this afternoon, it was still standing.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 22, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)
Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted February 22, 2016, by Kevin Skow (weatherbum [at] hotmail [dot] com)

An ice jam gave out north of the bridge this morning, and the surge of ice and water caused major damage to one of the western piers. The pier is leaning 8 ft downstream and the trusses are severely warped. The bridge could collapse at any time. Will try to post photos later on.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 6, 2015, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Update on the bridge: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2015/08/06/wagon-wheel...

Preservation efforts are being undertaken, but also considerations of removing the bridge in its entirety by the county. It appears the third battle in five years is brewing....

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 5, 2015, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

The bridge caught fire on the east side and has been fenced off to all traffic. Not a total loss but the damage is substantial. More here: http://whotv.com/2015/08/03/wagon-wheel-bridge-in-boone-dama...

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted January 30, 2015, by Bob Grise (rob7304 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I travel from MN to Iowa on business many times a year and have often wondered where the old bridge was that crossed the river west of Boone, as I had never crossed the river there except on the Hwy 30 bypass...I will call it a bypass since it obviously bypasses downtown Boone. On January 27th 2015, a very nice day for January, I was in the area and decided to search for the old bridge or crossing. I found it and I enjoyed the peace and beauty of this rustic old bridge and wild river bottom. The bridge is obviously no longer suited for vehicles, but as a scenic pedestrian crossing it should stand up for years to come - no changes needed.

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted August 16, 2013, by Carolyn Susor (susorcar [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Geez! What happened to the river??

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted October 5, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

When I was here in July 2012, the deck had been repaired

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted November 5, 2010, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Good news in the world of historic bridges: The referendum which would grant a $6 million bond to tear down and replace the Wagon Wheel Bridge was voted down considerably. Now it's just a matter of finding a more constructive way to reuse the bridge. Please have a look at the article I wrote:

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2010/11/06/wagon-wheel...

JS

Wagon Wheel Bridge
Posted October 24, 2010, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

News from the Bridgehunter's Chronicles:

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2010/10/25/wagon-wheel...

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted October 18, 2010, by Helen Lamb (helenclamb [at] gmail [dot] com)

It is on the Nov. 2, 2010 election ballot in Boone County to remove this historic bridge and replace it 60 ft. away by constructing a new and different bridge, both jobs paid for by county homeowner taxes, due to concern by board of supervisors of Boone County that it may fall into the Des Moines River or pose a hazard. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places. I and others would like to see the wagon bridge become a pedestrian and bicycle bridge, and continue to be used by fishermen, campers and photographers, but there are no county funds for this. Can anyone help?

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted October 5, 2009, by Bill Jepsen (willin [at] galynx [dot] com)

The local name for this bridge is "The Wagon Wheel Bridge". I have never heard it called anything else. It is now closed but there are still rumblings about turning it into a pedestrian bridge. I hope it happens--neat old bridge!

Wagon Wheel was open until just a couple of years ago and traveling in a vehicle across it made you feel as if you were a stunt man trusting your life to a noisy, clattering old bridge, but you still could not help making the journey across just for the experience.

Bill Jepsen

Boone County, Iowa

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted March 1, 2009, by Andy Winegar (jitterz [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I went to this bridge today, hoping to get a look at the new, still unfinished Kate Shelley Bridge. Apparently they fixed whatever flood damage there was because a couple of people were using it to get to the other side - one of them looked like a UP official. I walked out on it and everthing appeared normal.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 9, 2008, by Lugnuts (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

Does anyone know how the property owners on the west side of the river get to their homes? The last time I was there, Juneberry Road was closed beneath the Kate Shelly Bridge. Without this bridge and without Juneberry Road access, those properties are inaccessible.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 9, 2008, by Anonymous

That's amazing. That bridge probably stood for a hundred years and only just now was damaged by this "hundred year flood". Pretty amazing, the power of nature.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 8, 2008, by Jim Peterson (peterson [at] everestkc [dot] net)

Currently, this bridge is closed due to flood damage. It can be walked across, but isn't suitable for vehicle travel. The flood waters went over the east approach, buckling the decking, eroding the approach, possibly moving the first approach span, and damaging the railing. Hopefully this will be repaired, but I suspect that it will never be open for vehicle traffic again since it's my understanding that the current Kate Shelley High Bridge will be converted to auto traffic once the new rail bridge is constructed.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 15, 2007, by Lugnuts (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

The east end of the bridge (5th photo in the sequence) makes a lot of noise. The road is closed, due to construction traffic where work is being done on the Kate Shelly bridge. For a Sunday afternoon, on a closed road, there was an awful lot of traffic on this bridge!

The last photo in this sequence is of the High Level Kate Shelly Bridge. That bridge carries the double mainline of the Union Pacific across the Des Moines River and is named for a young woman who, in 1881, risked her life to save a Chicago & North Western Railway passenger express train. The perspective of the photo belies the 184' height of the Kate Shelly Bridge, which was built in 1901 and was the first bridge named for a woman. http://www.americanfolklore.net/folktales/ia.html

The bridge in front of the Kate Shelly bridge is a temporary bridge to allow construction equipment to cross the river.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.

Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 15, 2007, by Lugnuts (thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

This bridge, on 200th Avenue, is just upriver from the Kate Shelly High Level Bridge. It is a wood decked truss and a cheap thrill to drive across. You can hear the bridge creak when you walk on it, let alone drive on it.

Webmaster's note: The photos that were here have been incorporated into the main site.