4 votes

Coal Bank Hill Bridge (1919)


Photo taken by Scott Vavroch in November 2016


BH Photo #369379


Bridge was formerly privately owned by the now-deceased Carroll Hobson.

In April 1881 the Hardin County Board of Supervisors resolved to erect an all-iron bridge across the Iowa River. Spanning 155 feet, the structure would form the north entrance to Eldora, the county seat. In June a contract to erect the bridge and its tubular piers was awarded to the Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio. Known locally as the Coal Bank Hill Bridge, this structure carried regional traffic until the late 1910s, when Hardin County began considering its replacement. In the summer of 1918 the county commissioned the state highway commission to design a new superstructure that would be placed on the existing iron piers. Competitive bids were solicited, and in September 1918 bids were received from the A. Olson Construction Company and the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Company. Low bidder at $10,765, Des Moines B&I was awarded the contract, but the decision was later rescinded by the supervisors, and the project was re-advertised. When bids were received in March 1919, they were again rejected as too high. Finally, on April 9, 1919, the Des Moines Bridge and Iron Works was re-awarded the contract for the smaller sum of $8,690. The Coal Bank Hill Bridge, completed later that year with no further interruptions, carried traffic for several decades before its closure. It has since been allowed to molder in place by the county. "Designs for several bridges of importance were prepared by commission last year," ISHC reported in 1918. "Owing to the prevailing high prices of construction and the necessity for the conservation of materials and labor [caused by World War I] many of the more important pieces of construction were deferred for the period of the war." The Coal Bank Hill Bridge was one of those structures that suffered from wartime shortages. It employed a riveted Parker design - ISHC's standard for long-span trusses throughout the 1920s and 1930s. With their inherently long spans, Parker trusses were never very common in Iowa. The Coal Bank Hill Bridge is the oldest remaining ISHC Parker truss that can be definitively traced. It is this that makes it a noteworthy transportation-related resource [adapted from Crow-Dolby and Fraser 1992].


Parker through truss bridge over Iowa River on Abandoned Road
Hardin County, Iowa
Privately Owned
Future prospects
Bridge was formerly privately owned by Carroll Hobson.

Present ownership is unknown.

Built 1919 by the Des Moines B&I Co. to replace an earlier 1881 span.
- Des Moines Bridge & Iron Co./Works of Des Moines, Iowa
- Iowa State Highway Commission of Ames, Iowa (Designer)
Riveted parker through truss with A-frame portal bracing
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.38093, -93.09665   (decimal degrees)
42°22'51" N, 93°05'48" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/492043/4692076 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Steamboat Rock
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000527 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 49349 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 6, 2016: New photo from Luke
  • December 3, 2012: Updated by Clark Vance: Description edit
  • December 2, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Edited text to reflect the passing of the owner of the bridge.
  • January 26, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "A-frame portal"
  • January 26, 2012: Updated by Jason Smith: Judging by the Bing view, this bridge has an A-frame portal bracing and riveted connections. Has one span.
  • January 25, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Riveted", "Iowa State Highway Commission"
  • September 8, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Changed build date for the current span and fixed a typo
  • August 15, 2011: Added by Luke Harden

Related Bridges 



Coal Bank Hill Bridge
Posted November 6, 2016, by Scott Vavroch (Scottvavroch [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The Bridge is still there and in good shape.We seen Kayaking yesterday

Coal Bank Hill Bridge
Posted December 3, 2012, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

I'll have to inquire more about that when I get a chance. I hope that the city will consider turning it into a pedestrian bridge should there be no owner. Got your other e-mail on the bridge. Thanks!

Coal Bank Hill Bridge
Posted December 2, 2012, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)


Could you please provide some details about the owner and her passing, let alone the future of the bridge, as many of us don't know much about the bridge and the current situation.


Coal Bank Hill Bridge
Posted October 4, 2011, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)


I would definitely encourage you to do that as it may be the only opportunity to snatch some pics from the side. I plan on contacting the owner to see if she has some photos of this and the 1881 pic and use that for the book as well as one of my column entries. Good luck should you take this venture...

Coal Bank Hill Bridge
Posted September 8, 2011, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

I tried finding that bridge during my tour through Iowa only to find that the bridge is completely fenced off on both ends and from about 800 feet away each end. The only way to see the bridge is through the owner herself, which has not been attempted but it is worth the attempt.