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RI - Dry Branch Creek Bridge #1



Abandoned pony plate girder bridge over Dry Branch Creek on former Rock Island RR
Des Moines County, Iowa
Abandoned 1980
- Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)
- Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway (BCRN)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (CRIP (1866-1920); RI (1920-1975) ROCK (1975-1980))
2 - 55' Through Plate Girder
Length of largest span: 55.0 ft.
Total length: 110.0 ft.
Also called
Rock Island Bridge #37
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.85907, -91.10789   (decimal degrees)
40°51'33" N, 91°06'28" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/659471/4524835 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 59120 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 1, 2014: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added categories "Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad", "Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway", "railroad"


  • Dylan VanAntwerp - dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com


RI - Dry Branch Creek Bridge #1
Posted July 1, 2020, by Luke

I'd say you're on the money, Douglas.

RI - Dry Branch Creek Bridge #1
Posted July 1, 2020, by Douglas W. Jones (douglas-w-jones [at] uiowa [dot] edu)

I recently uploaded an image to Wikimedia Commons that I am convinced is of this bridge under construction circa 1898. See:

-- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Burlington_and_Weste...

I've consulted with the editor of the Burlington Railroad Historical Society, who sent the photo to me from the BRHS collection. The evidence for identifying the photo with this bridge is as follows:

1) barely discernable, the photo shows the B&W narrow gauge train to be on dual gauge track. This constrains it to being on the BCR&N track from Burlington to Mediapolis.

2) Looking at the photo, the distance between the stone abutments is hard to estimate, but it's perhaps 3 times the length of the M&STL box car that's on the bridge. The car is perhaps 35 feet long, suggesting a bridge length of 90 to 120 feet. Looking at the bridges on the line, this limits it to RI - Dry Branch Creek Bridges #1-3. No others are in this length range.

3) Looking closely at the stonework, you can see that the two stone abutments are angled away from the camera to the left. This rules out Dry Branch Bridge #2, where the angle would be to the right.

4) The surviving original stonework for Dry Branch Bridge #3 looks wrong, without the thin on top of medium on top of thicker easily visible in the photo.

5) Both Dry Branch Bridge #1 and #3 are on broad curves of the rail line to the left. The telephone pole on the far side of the creek has a prop on the left side appropriate for such a curve.

6) The view along the valley ahead of the train shows no topography. That's what I'd expect at Bridge #1, where the setting is at a branch in the valley with streams that end up paralleling the tracks on both sides and no hills rise for 0.2 miles, so scattered trees can hide them. At Bridge #3, the valley is narrower, I would expect hills.

Now, about the photo: It's obvious that the BCR&N tracks are on a wood trestle and that the new abutments have been built around that trestle and new fill has been placed behind the abutments, partially burying the trestle. Out in mid channel, there's timber cribwork holding up the trestle. Presumably, that's temporary support while the center pier of the two-span bridge is being built. They're clearly not ready to bring in the ironwork yet for this bridge.