5 votes

Elkader Keystone Bridge


Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #115335

Street View 


At the turn of the century, Clayton County contracted with a variety of firms and individuals to bridge the county's myriad streams and rivers. For longer-span crossings (often across the Turkey River) the county usually opted for iron or steel trusses, whereas at shorter crossings, rudimentary timber stringer structures were often erected. For some crossings, though, the county took advantage of the area's limestone quarries and erected arch bridges built of stone. Constructed by local stone masons, many of these crossings are still in service today. The most notable of Clayton County's stone arches is the 189-foot Keystone Bridge, built over the Turkey River at Elkader in 1888-89. On June 30, 1888, the Clayton County Board of Supervisors contracted with local masons Byrne & Blake of Dubuque, Iowa to construct this two-span stone arch bridge on Elkader's Main Street. With its construction overseen by James McKinley, supervisor, the bridge was built of limestone quarried from the nearby Coles Quarry. The bridge's base price was listed as $13,000 but additional monies for extra mortar in the wingwalls, coping, end caps and macadam roadway eventually pushed the structure's overall cost to $16,282.49. When completed in August 1889, this impressive new crossing weighed an estimated 18,618,255 pounds, and at the height of the arch, stood 27.9 feet above the stream bed. Now more than one hundred years old, the Elkader Keystone Bridge continues to carry traffic across Turkey River. It displays an exceptionally high degree of craftsmanship and historic integrity {Adapted from Fraser 1991]


Two-span stone arch bridge over Turkey River on Bridge Street in Elkader
Elkader, Clayton County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1889; rehabilitated 1973
- Byrne & Blake of Dubuque, Iowa (Masons)
- Mathew Tschirgi Jr. of Dubuque, Iowa (Designer)
Length of largest span: 80.1 ft.
Total length: 189.0 ft.
Deck width: 27.9 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1976
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.85486, -91.40404   (decimal degrees)
42°51'17" N, 91°24'15" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/630391/4745932 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 76000747 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 20630 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 13180 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of December 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 10 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • December 25, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • February 21, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • October 14, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • July 9, 2012: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • July 22, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added description
  • August 2, 2010: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • June 16, 2008: New photos from Historic American Engineering Record

Related Bridges 


  • HAER IA-47 - Elkader Bridge
  • Historic American Engineering Record
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Dana and Kay Klein