13 votes

DME - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)


Photo taken by Dave Sebben

View this photo on Flickr

BH Photo #200157


Street Views 


Part of the bridge's north approach trestle collapsed on Tuesday, June 24th, at 11:29PM, as an Iowa, Chicago and Eastern locomotive was in the process of pushing four tanker cars off the bridge and back towards the Tyson Foods meat packing plant north of the bridge. The tank cars had been filled with water and placed on the bridge in hopes of securing it against flood damage, due to extreme high water from the 2008 floods.

As the flood waters had crested and the danger was subsiding, an IC&E locomotive was attempting to move the tank cars back off the bridge when part of the north approach trestle gave way. Two of the tank cars and the locomotive ended up falling into the backwaters underneath the trestle, north of the actual river channel. The locomotive's engineer was trapped in the locomotive and had to be extricated by a water rescue team.

The collapse of the northern trestle would mark the end of the bridge's active service life and ultimately seal its fate. The damaged remnants of the collapsed section of the trestle were removed, but the trestle was never rebuilt. The spur to Tyson foods was soon torn out, leaving the bridge sitting abandoned with its rails removed. Although it was hoped that the bridge could become a part of the Hoover Trail, its demise came in 2014, when it was completely demolished and removed.


Lost Parker through truss over Iowa River on former Iowa Beef Packers (Tyson Foods) spur line
Columbus Junction, Louisa County, Iowa
Bridge removed
Built 1894, Approach Collapsed 2008, removed completely 2014
- Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway (BCRN)
- Canadian Pacific Railway (CP)
- Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (MILW)
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (CRIP (1866-1920); RI (1920-1975) ROCK (1975-1980))
- Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern Railroad (DME)
- I&M Rail Link (IMRL)
- Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (ICE)
- Soo Line Railroad (SOO)
16 Panel Open Deck Pile Trestle (South Approach)
22 Panel Open Deck Pile Trestle (North Approach, collapsed 2008)
2 - 154' Parker Through Truss
1 - 153' Parker Through Truss
Length of largest span: 154.0 ft.
Total length: 975.0 ft.
Also called
IC&E Iowa River Bridge
RI Iowa River Bridge
Rock Island Bridge #413
MILW - Iowa River Bridge
BCR&N Iowa River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.29153, -91.35968   (decimal degrees)
41°17'29" N, 91°21'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/637345/4572417 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Columbus Junction
Inventory number
BH 48845 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 23, 2020: New photo from Luke
  • February 20, 2015: Updated by John Marvig: Bridge has Been Removed
  • April 14, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: This bridge is now doomed.
  • March 11, 2014: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • October 18, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • October 18, 2013: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Edited photos and added info
  • August 31, 2013: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added info from RI track chart
  • August 14, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • March 25, 2013: New Street View added by Clark Vance
  • March 24, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added build date
  • February 14, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Edited description.
  • January 29, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway"
  • December 30, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • June 18, 2012: Updated by Owen McCormick: Rails have been removed.
  • September 13, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added Streetview
  • June 3, 2011: Added by Luke Harden

Related Bridges 



DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted April 14, 2014, by Richard Carlson (richard-j-carlson [at] uiowa [dot] edu)

For anyone interested, this bridge will be demolished soon. I'm working on the historic documenation of the bridge that's required under a Memorandum of Agreement signed last September between the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and the Iowa State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). Last Friday the Iowa SHPO approved the photographic documenation of the bridge, which gives the green light to the USACE to issue a permit that will allow the demolition company to begin work.

DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted March 12, 2014, by Richard Carlson (richard-j-carlson [at] uiowa [dot] edu)

John, thank you for the information. The date in the Rock Island file, in particular, seems to clinch it. I appreciate your help.

DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted March 11, 2014, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I was actually the one who tracked down the date. My reasoning for 1894 was:

1) The BCR&N built bridges in sets by similar designs. There *was* an identical span north of Waterloo, which Iowa Northern reported to be built in 1894.

2) All pictures, descriptions and other relations to the old bridge place the current bridge in the 1890s.

3) I stumbled upon a Rock Island file of some sorts dating the bridge to 1894. I can no longer find that file, but if I do, I will post it.

DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted March 11, 2014, by Richard Carlson (richard-j-carlson [at] uiowa [dot] edu)

Thanks for the reply. The information I have states that the present Pratt through truss bridge replaced an earlier railroad bridge in the same location some time between about 1876 and 1905. The BCR&N acquired the previous bridge in 1876 as part of the trackage of a failed earlier railroad. The BCR&N at some point replaced the earlier bridge with the present one, and I'm trying to figure out exactly when that was.

DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted March 11, 2014, by Anonymous

That's the time the Burlington, Cedar Rapids, & Northern would have been building through Columbus Junction,if memory serves, so it's a fairly safe estimate that the bridge was built then.

DM&E - Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted March 11, 2014, by Richard Carlson (richard-j-carlson [at] uiowa [dot] edu)

This bridge is said to have been built in 1894. Could someone tell me the source of this date?

DM&E Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted October 18, 2013, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

FYI for anybody who might be interested...

Part of my background was in heavy equipment demolition, specifically rail equipment. That company folded a few years ago, but last winter the former owner was working with some investors and attempting to get another scrap company going. Besides rail equipment, he was also looking at getting into bridge demolition, so I brought this bridge to his attention as a possible candidate.

He called Tyson several times inquiring about the bridge but could never get them to give him a straight answer as to what their intentions for it were. That being said, anybody who is interested in seeing this bridge re-used for trail usage in the future should take heart from this. Whatever Tyson has planned for this bridge's future, they don't seem to be in a big hurry to sell it off and have it torn down.

Now I know that some of you might be shocked or offended that somebody who contributes to this website might seek to be part of a historic bridge's destruction, but before you have a stroke at your keyboard, please consider: While I don't get into the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of bridge type or history like many of you do, I do enjoy looking at them or photographing them from time to time. However, I'm also a realist. Not every bridge ever built can be saved, and many of them are going to have to come down at some time.

While I would have regretted seeing it come down, I personally would have jumped at the chance to take part in its demolition if the opportunity would have arrived. It is simply the nature of the beast. I am a passionate railfan, but that didn't stop me from destroying numerous old locomotives when the job called for it. The Rock Island will always be my favorite railroad, and this bridge is one of the major pieces of its legacy still standing in SE Iowa. Personally, I am glad that it seems to be safe for now and hopefully it will become part of the Hoover Trail. Time will tell.

DM&E Iowa River Bridge (Tyson Spur)
Posted August 13, 2013, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

Warning to all who go back here....

Its a nice bridge, although the smell from the Tyson plant is strong enough to make someone puke

DM&E Iowa River Bridge
Posted March 6, 2013, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Hopefully it can become part of the Hoover Trail in the future.

DM&E Iowa River Bridge
Posted March 6, 2013, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

According to what I've ascertained, Tyson Foods actually owns the bridge.