4 votes

Old Keokuk-Hamilton Bridge


Keokuk Rail Bridge

Keokuk Rail Bridge before it became rail traffic only at time carries US 136

Photo taken by Parents of David B. Haun


BH Photo #113840

Street Views 


Keokuk Rail Bridge

Keokuk rail bridge swing span closing

Steve Conro

Play video on YouTube

The Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge 

Written by Martha Bowers and Hans Muessig, for HAER in 1982

The Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge is one of three remaining in Iowa that were designed by Ralph Modjeski, one of this country's premier early 20th century bridge engineers. The eleven-span, double-deck steel superstructure was built in 1915-1916 on piers retained from an earlier (1869-1871) structure, to meet greater loading requirements from railroads that operated across the Mississippi at this point.

The Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge Company was incorporated in 1868 to further railroad and commercial development in Keokuk and in Hancock County, Illinois. The firm's president until 1914 was Andrew Carnegie, who had interest in the railroad participating in the venture. The first Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge was built by Carnegie's Keystone Bridge Co. from designs by Thomas Curtis Clarke, later a founder of Clarke, Reeves & Co. (which is best known under its subsequent name, Phoenix Bridge Co.). This structure stood until 1915, when pressure from Keokuk businessmen and the threatened erection of a competing bridge forced the Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge Co. to reconstruct its span.

The replacement structure remained in corporate ownership until January 1949, when it was turned over to the city of Keokuk. Although the city intended that there should be no tolls for vehicular traffic, the span remained "free" for only three years. Tolls were reimposed in 1952, in order to finance maintenance and also major repairs to the piers, which were rejacketed with reinforced concrete in 1951-1952.


Through truss bridge over Mississippi River on Keokuk Junction Railway
Keokuk, Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock County, Illinois
Open to rail traffic only. The upper deck on the Iowa side has been converted to an observation deck; the upper deck on the Illinois side is closed to traffic. Roadway traffic has been shifted to the 1985 beam span to the southwest of the bridge
Built in 1917, Roadway deck Service Discontinued 1985
- Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge Co. (Owner)
- Ralph Modjeski of Bochnia, Poland (Chief Engineer)
- Strobel Steel Construction Co. of Chicago, Illinois
- Keokuk Junction Railway (KJRY)
- Peoria & Western Railway (PWRY)
- Toledo, Peoria, & Western Railroad (TPW)
- Wabash Railroad (WAB)
Through truss
Length of largest span: 380.0 ft.
Total length: 3,800.0 ft. (0.7 mi.)
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.39108, -91.37289   (decimal degrees)
40°23'28" N, 91°22'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/638096/4472435 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 36498 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 1, 2022: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • October 27, 2016: Updated by Luke: Added builder
  • August 2, 2016: Updated by Luke: Posted blueprints.
  • June 24, 2016: New photos from John Marvig
  • June 20, 2016: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • April 1, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added Ralph Modjeski as Engineer.
  • May 26, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Wabash Railroad"
  • September 11, 2012: New photos from Steve Conro
  • April 4, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Keokuk Junction Railway", "Navigable waterway", "HAER documented"
  • September 20, 2011: Updated by Jason Smith: Added information on the bridge and readjusted the GPS
  • August 12, 2010: New Street View added by Jason Smith
  • September 10, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • May 4, 2008: New photos from David B. Haun
  • April 29, 2008: Added by David B. Haun

Related Bridges 


  • David B. Haun
  • HAER IA-3 - Keokuk & Hamilton Bridge
  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Wikipedia
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Nathan Holth
  • Douglas Butler
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Geoff Hubbs


Old Keokuk-Hamilton Bridge
Posted June 20, 2016, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Would love to see Illinois step up and open this structure to pedestrians. Would make a wonderful addition to the very nice town of Keokuk!

Keokuk Rail Bridge
Posted October 3, 2011, by Ross Brown

I walked on the observation deck of this bridge in June of 2011. I highly doubt that it is used that much because there was grass covering the rails, and I have seen few photos since the new bridge opened of the old bridge in the closed position. Maybe they could open the other side to pedestrians...

Keokuk Rail Bridge
Posted May 8, 2008, by Christopher Overly (chrisoverly [at] gmail [dot] com)

The vehicle portion of it is quite interesting, you could see through it, I do not know why they don't do this type of bridge more often, as if the road is not very well traveled it would be very efficient.