3 votes

Upper Paris Bridge


General View of West Side Looking East

Photo by Bruce A. Harms and Rob Tucher, LBA; Summer 1996, for HAER

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #123585



From the Iowa DOT web site

Description: This unusual Whipple truss spans the Wapsipinicon River in northern Linn County. It was built in 1879 by the Ohio-based Canton Wrought Iron Bridge Company for $3,400. The timber and stone substructure was constructed by Cloyston and Wood for $1564.72. The bridge is a fairly rare example of a double-intersection Pratt truss, also known as a "Whipple" truss, which was first developed by Squire Whipple, an early American engineer, in 1847. Additional construction documentation for this long-span truss do not exist in county records. Barring a minor replacement, the aesthetically striking Upper Paris Bridge carries intermittent vehicular traffic in its rural setting. The Upper Paris Bridge is distinguished as a well-preserved, large-scale example of a Whipple truss. Basically a Pratt with diagonals that extent over two panels, the Whipple truss was seldom employed for wagon trusses in the state. Few were ever erected and fewer yet remain today. This structure is one of only eight pin-connected Whipple through trusses remaining in Iowa and is the longest of eight. For its exceeding rare use of wrought iron components, its rare truss configuration, and its overall length, the Upper Paris Bridge is a structurally significant wagon crossing in Iowa.


Whipple through truss bridge over Wapsipinicon River on Sutton Road near Paris
Linn County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1879; rehabilitated 1987
- Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, Ohio
Whipple through truss

"This Whipple through truss is structurally significant wagon crossing and a rare example of a double-intersection Pratt truss with the rare use of wrought iron components along with its truss configuration (diagonals extending over two panels). It is one of only eight pin-connected Whipple through trusses remaining in Iowa and is the longest of the eight.

"This document was prepared as part of the Iowa Historic Bridges Recording Project performed durng the Summer of 1995 by the Historic American Engineering Record (HAER). The project was sponsored by the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). Preliminary research on this bridge was performed by Clayton B. Fraser of Fraserdesign, Loveland, CO."

Historians: Richard Vidutis, Jim Hippen

Length of largest span: 158.1 ft.
Total length: 208.0 ft.
Deck width: 14.8 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 11.1 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Also called
Sutton Road Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.24417, -91.58426   (decimal degrees)
42°14'39" N, 91°35'03" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/616800/4677856 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Central City
Land survey
T. 86 N., R. 6 W., Sec. 19
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
IA 223020 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 98000532 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 13855 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of June 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 16.9 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • May 17, 2020: New photo from Quinn Phelan
  • February 24, 2015: New photos from Dave King
  • September 5, 2013: New photo from Dave King
  • August 31, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • December 18, 2008: Essay added by Quinn Phelan
  • September 10, 2008: New photos from J.R. Manning


  • HAER IA-83 - Upper Paris Bridge
  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Quinn Phelan - qphelan [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com