10 votes

County Line Bowstring Bridge




Photo taken by Robert L Elder



Bowstring truss bridge over West Creek on Republic Road, northwest of Hollis
Cloud County, Kansas, and Republic County, Kansas
Open to one-lane traffic on a low-maintenance road
Built in 1876 as part of a four span bridge in the Concordia vicinity.
Bowstring pony truss
Length of largest span: 74.1 ft.
Total length: 80.0 ft.
Deck width: 14.7 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.65353, -97.57286   (decimal degrees)
39°39'13" N, 97°34'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/622435/4390276 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 89002192 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
KS 000150795103480 (Kansas local bridge number on the National Bridge Inventory)
BH 17594 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 01/2015)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Appraisal: Structurally deficient
Sufficiency rating: 25.9 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2013)

Update Log 

  • November 30, 2010: New photo from Joe Underwood
  • March 25, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Removed Phoenix Bridge Co. from Builders.
  • January 26, 2010: Updated by Robert Elder: Adjusted GPS Coordinates.
  • November 24, 2008: New photos from Robert Elder
  • November 15, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited History and Categories.
  • November 12, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Edited Year Built
  • August 4, 2008: New photo from Robert Elder
  • July 23, 2008: Updated by Robert Elder: Updated Builders, NRHP record number and Categories.
  • October 2, 2006: Posted photos from Robert L Elder


  • Robert Elder - robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Joe Underwood


County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 12, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Somewhat like the portal bracing and truss bridge discussions that was bounced around here a while back, there seems to be some grey area. But on HistoricBridges.org I reserve the idea of a column for those patented built-up beams which should also have unusually shaped parts. There actually were many different designs of columns patented during this period. Simply go to Google patent search and type in wrought iron column and look at the results. The King Bridge Company top chords are really simple in design, with riveted plate and such, and as a result I wouldn't call them columns. Anyway, thats my two cents worth on it.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 12, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Thanks for that link, it was very informative. Having lived in Decorah briefly, I al glad to see that the bridges of Winneshiek County, IA have been documented by your website.

The Column discussions on this forum have been interesting. To add a little more information, I have observed at least four distinctive bowstring top chord designs in Kansas.

1. The Keystone Columns used on this bridge as well as on the nearby Salt Creek Bowstring Bridge also in Cloud Co.

2. The "Phoenix Like" columns on the Independence Bowstring Bridge - see link in previous comment.

3. The square, built-up members associated nationwide with the King Bridge Company:



4. A similar design used by the Buckeye Bridge Works:


All of these top chords, regardless of design, fabricator, or builder are examples of built-up members. It would not be a stretch for a fabricator to observe a King Bridge Co. or Buckeye Bridge Works design and create a larger built-up member suitable for a large through truss. Where should we pontists draw the line between columns and the newer, more standardized built up members commonly used on truss bridges?

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

From what I have observed, WIBC used Keystone columns and Phoenix Columns in its trusses. I have also been hearing rumors of a third type of column and I need to do some investigation in that regard. As for patents and history of WIBC bowstring, I brought together some of the more relevant documentation (HAER excerpts and the patent) to a single page here: http://www.historicbridges.org/iowa/freeport/index.php

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The columns on the Independence bridge don't appear to have the flat surface on each of the 4 sections that you see on most other WIBC bowstrings. I know they patented their tubular design, but without digging am not sure of the year. If the date of 1871 on the Independence span is correct, it might predate the patent and be an earlier design.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


Thanks for the feedback. I am glad that you mentioned the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. because I know of another WIBC Bowstring that appears to me to feature a different type of column:


I don't know if those are Phoenix Columns or not, but I have been trying to identify them. The photos were taken during my early bridgehunting years so they are not the best. Columns are a rare find, so I have not gotten too familiar with them.

County Line Bowstring Bridge
Posted March 11, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


You are right, the inventory is wrong. The columns are indeed Keystone style columns and are not fabricated by the Phoenix Bridge Company. The bridge itself was built by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company.

There is a Wrought iron bridge company bowstring in Ohio that has Phoenix columns, but to my knowledge its the only one with them.

County Line Bowstring Bridge - column identification question
Posted March 11, 2010, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Perhaps one of my fellow pontists is a better authority on Keystone and Phoenix columns that myself. I have always thought that the top chords on this bridge resembled Keystone columns.

However, according to the Kansas State Historical Society, this bridge was built in 1876 by the Phoenix Bridge Co. http://khri.kansasgis.org/index.cfm?tab=details&in=029-0000-...

It would defy intuition that the Phoenix Bridge Co. would use columns fabricated by a competitor. Thus, I suspect that I have mis-identified the top chords. Any insight concerning these columns would be welcome.