3 votes

Horn's Ferry Bridge


The west spans- now as observation point looking towards the east end

Photo taken by Jason Smith


BH Photo #211619


The Horn's Ferry Bridge was the first bridge to cross the Des Moines River in Marion County when it opened to traffic in 1881, replacing a ferry which had previously crossed the river since 1865. The bridge was closed to traffic in 1982 when a new crossing at the Red Rock Dam (located 700 feet upstream) was built, but remained open to pedestrians until the night of 31 August 1991, when one of the stone piers collapsed, sending 300 feet of the bridge into the river in a slow, agonizing motion. For safety reasons, that section, plus additional spans were removed to a point where today, two Pratt pony trusses on the west end and a riveted Pratt through truss and riveted Warren pony truss on the east end remain today, functioning as observation points. On each end of the bridge, camping options are available and a bike trail and bridge located just 300 feet upstream now replace this unique crossing.


Lost Camelback through truss bridge over Des Moines River near the Red Rock Dam on 198th Place
Marion County, Iowa
Future prospects
Bridge now consists of two observation decks- one on each end of the river- using the rest of the spans salvaged from the disaster in 1991
Built in 1881, Two spans lost to flooding in 1929, Partially collapsed on 31 August 1991, Converted to observation decks shortly thereafter.
- C.C. Collins of Richland County, Ohio (Contractor)
- Wickes Engineering & Construction Co. of Des Moines, Iowa (1929 Spans)
From west to east: six pin-connected Pratt pony truss spans (100 feet each)- of which two remain; one pin-connected Camelback through truss (200 ft.), one riveted Pratt through truss (140 ft.) and one 90 foot riveted Warren pony truss span. The last two spans still remain.
Length of largest span: 200.0 ft.
Total length: 1,030.0 ft.
Deck width: 18.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.36093, -92.97089   (decimal degrees)
41°21'39" N, 92°58'15" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/502434/4578825 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 49471 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 14, 2020: Updated by Tony Dillon: Edited year of collapse
  • May 14, 2020: New photos from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • June 8, 2019: New photo from Luke
  • November 14, 2014: Updated by Luke: Added links to info
  • October 21, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Added categories "Red Rock Lake Project (Iowa)", "Howe Lattice Portal", "M-frame portal", "Pin-connected", "Riveted", "One-lane traffic", "Wooden deck", "Wrought iron", "steel truss"
  • May 16, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added info
  • March 12, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added contractor
  • September 1, 2011: Added by Jason Smith