10 votes

Tama Lincoln Highway Bridge



Photo taken by J.R. Manning

BH Photo #101888


Street View 


On May 17, 1915, the Tama County Board of Supervisors contracted with Paul N. Kingsley, a relatively new contractor from Strawberry Point, Iowa, to build 53 bridges and culverts throughout the county. Kingsley was to complete the work by November 1st of that year, for $39,900. But by November Kingsley, who was struggling to manage the ambitious, multiple-bridge contracts he then held with several Iowa counties, had completed only a minimal amount of work. Although the board considered taking action against Kingsley and his bonding company in meetings held on November 27th and 30th, on December 28th they extended his contract to July 1, 1916. By spring, though, it was evident that Kingsley no longer had the wherewithal to complete the work. The supervisors declared Kingsley in default of the contract, and in December 1916, settled with the bonding company and contracted with other firms for his unfinished work. Kingsley's difficulties in fulfilling his obligations are not revealed in the historic record, and his name quickly passed from county bridge building circles. Yet Kingsley did leave a lasting legacy by building the Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama. Constructed in 1915, three years after the formation of the Lincoln Highway Association, the bridge is representative of efforts by local officials in order to promote automobile travel to encourage economic development. In recent years, following a relocation of U.S. Highway 30, the bridge has served to carry local traffic. Although for contractor Paul Kingsley the Lincoln Highway Bridge represented the beginning of the end, for the town of Tama it commemorated the town's place on the nation's first transcontinental highway, with the traffic commerce that accompanied it. When the route was first plotted in 1913, the citizens of Tama and the surrounding area immediately recognized its importance. "We can scarcely estimate the travel this national road will induce," the Traer Star-Clipper stated in November 1913. "Millions have already been pledged toward it and every state it spans is at work planning construction. All along the 3,000 miles work is in progress. This will probably become the best long distance auto road in the United States. Fortunate indeed is Tama county to have it pass through her entire length." The highway was routed through the small town of Tama, along Fifth Street at the town's eastern edge. When in 1915 the county planned a small bridge to carry the Lincoln Highway over Mud Creek in Tama, the county supervisors opted to add architectural expression to the otherwise typical concrete slab structure, as a means to distinguish the bridge from the hundreds of others [adapted from Fraser 1990]


Concrete slab bridge over Mud Creek on 5th Street E in Tama
Tama, Tama County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1915 by Paul Kingsley
- Paul Kingsley of Strawberry Point, Iowa
"In September 1912, the Midwestern visionary Carl Fisher proposed to group of automotive businessmen a plan to build a road spanning from coast to coast. The route, later named the Lincoln Highway, would start in New York City, finish in San Francisco, an cross 358 miles through the state of Iowa on the way. This monumental undertaking was to be privately funded with the towns and counties profiting from its passage sharing a large part of the construction costs. Thus, a widespread advertisement campaign for the transcontinental highway was launched with each community along its path trying to outdo the next in making itself the most desirable rest stop. The town of Tama distinguished itself from the rest by constructing a special bridge for the route with the words "Lincoln Highway" spelled out in the concrete railing. This bridge remains a most unusual maker for this historic highway."

Historian: Juliet Landler, Engineer, August 1995 for HAER

Span length: 22.0 ft.
Total length: 22.0 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 30, 1978
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.96372, -92.56217   (decimal degrees)
41°57'49" N, 92°33'44" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/536280/4645840 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2013)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 78001263 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 11250 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 14489 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of October 2018)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 19.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • January 5, 2019: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • June 18, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added city
  • June 22, 2012: HAER photos posted by Jason Smith
  • May 11, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • October 8, 2011: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • August 15, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added photographs
  • September 17, 2010: New photos from Jason Smith
  • September 13, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning
  • March 30, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added Bridge to "Lincoln Highway" Category
  • March 1, 2008: New photo from J.R. Manning
  • August 3, 2007: Posted photos from J.R. Manning



Tama Lincoln Highway Bridge
Posted February 19, 2015, by Luke

"Needed repairs to the historic Lincoln Highway Bridge in Tama may get a boost from the National Lincoln Highway Association." -


Tama Lincoln Highway Bridge
Posted August 2, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/08/02/newsflyer-1... The newsflyer has a story on this bridge...

Tama Lincoln Highway Bridge
Posted October 4, 2009, by Scott (lovelebo [at] mchsi [dot] com)

This is one of the most unique and interesting bridges on the entire web site. We traveled approximately 1,000 miles of the Lincoln Highway with friends during the summer of 2009. Of course, we had to stop to take our picture on the bridge.