The early Elkader Bridge was an iron bridge of Truesdell patent design. It was poorly constructed and suffered badly under the ever increasing loads of this growing community.
In 1888, the Clayton County Board of Supervisors hired M. Tschirgi Jr., a respected civil engineer from the city of Dubuque, to assess the condition oftheir troubling bridge.
After a thorough examination, he submitted the following evaluation on June 6:
"the superstructure, consisting of four spans of Truesdell design, aggregating 202 feet in length is both faulty in design and in very poor condition to withstand the maximum load usually allowed for highway bridges, and judged by the standard of the specifications for iron highway bridges, it would be condemned."
Tschirgi stated that this type of bridge, even in perfect condition, could only carry 50 pounds per square foot, due to the faulty design of Truesdell.
This bridge in its current condition could fail under even less load. Heeding his advice, county supervisors condemned the old bridge immediately." - HAER No. IA-47