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Eldorado Bridge


Photo taken by Jason Smith


BH Photo #211924


Located in Eldorado, this medium-span truss carries an unpaved county road over the Turkey River;. Known locally as the Eldorado Bridge, the structure consists of a single pin-connected Camelback through truss, supported by stone abutments. The Eldorado Bridge was constructed by contractor J.G. Ratcliff of Waukon, Iowa, under contract with the Fayette County Board of Supervisors. Completed in March 1899, it has functioned in place since, in essentially unaltered condition. Straight-chorded Pratt through trusses were used extensively throughout Iowa for medium-span crossings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For longer crossings after the turn of the century, however, bridge companies could develop greater efficiency with polygonal-chorded Pratt variants--primarily Parker, Pennsylvania and Camelback trusses. With its distinctive five-faceted upper chords, the Camelback configuration was disdained by some engineers (including the venerable J.A.L. Waddell, who called it "uncompromisingly ugly") for its tendency under certain conditions to reverse compressive and tensile forces acting on their individual members. As a result, Camelback trusses have never received widespread acceptance. Relatively few were ever built on Iowa's roads, and only a handful has been identified as extant by the bridge inventory. The Eldorado Bridge is this technologically significant as a well-preserved example of this uncommon structural type [adapted from Fraser 1992].


Through truss bridge over Turkey River on State Street
Eldorado, Fayette County, Iowa
Closed to all traffic
Built 1899
- J.G. Ratcliff of Waukon, Iowa
Camelback through truss
Span length: 130.0 ft.
Total length: 130.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.8 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 25, 1998
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.05393, -91.83464   (decimal degrees)
43°03'14" N, 91°50'05" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/594903/4767462 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 95 N., R. 8 W.
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000783 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 152920 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 13462 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 26, 2017: New photos from Kevin Skow
  • May 21, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder
  • September 2, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith