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Taylor's Ford Bridge


Photo taken by Dylan VanAntwerp in June 2013


BH Photo #269769



This long-span iron bridge crosses the Wapsipinicon River in southeastern Buchanan County, four miles southeast of the county seat, Independence. The structure was once part of a two-span iron bowstring bridge, which carried Main Street over the Wapsipinicon in Independence. A 1914 county history reported that the earliest bridges in the county, including the Main Street Bridge, "were poorly constructed, cheap affairs and every spring freshet damaged them to a more or less extent, often the loss being entire. It was not until the county began to build all-iron structures, in 1870, that this changed. In January 1872, the supervisors awarded the contract for the new structure on Main Street in Independence, at $30 per lineal foot, to the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio. Total cost for the two-span superstructure, completed that year, was recorded as $8,772, not including joists and the deck. The substructure cost an additional $11,330. The Main Street bowstrings carried increasingly heavy traffic as the main river crossing in Independence, until they were replaced in 1891 by a heavier structure. One of the original iron spans was relocated that year to a crossing Buffalo Township. The other was moved to Taylor's Ford in Liberty Township and re-erected on iron cylinder piers. The Buffalo Township bridge has since been removed, but the Taylor's Ford Bridge has carried vehicular traffic to the present, with only maintenance related repairs. As it was building the Independence bowstring bridge, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company was under contract with the county to erect other iron bowstring trusses in Quasqueton and Fairbank. In its extensive dealings with the Wrought Iron Bridge Company in the 1870s, Buchanan County was simply following a regional trend: the bridge company was one of the largest bridge fabricators in America. In addition, its president, David Hammond, distinguished himself as one of the country's most prolific bridge innovators. Documentation shows that the primary superstructural type marketed by the WIBCo in the 1870s was the bowstring arch-truss made up of wrought and cast iron components. The bowstring was the most commonly erected all-metal bridge of the 1870s, owing in large part to WIBCo and its main competitor, the King Bridge and Manufacturing Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Both companies fabricated standardized versions of their own patented bowstring designs. The Taylor's Ford Bridge is thus both technologically significant because it is an early example of a once prevalent bridge design, the bowstring arch-truss, and it is historically notable since it was erected by one of the most prolific bridge builders in the Midwest during this decade, the Wrought Iron Bridge Company [adapted from Hybben, Roise, and Fraser 1992].


Bowstring through truss bridge over Wapsipinicon River on Nolen Avenue, southeast of Independence
Buchanan County, Iowa
Open to pedestrians only
Originally built 1872 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Co. on Main Street in Independence; relocated here in 1891
- Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, Ohio
Bowstring through truss
Length of largest span: 143.1 ft.
Total length: 271.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.7 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 12.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 25, 1998
Also called
The Iron Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.39981, -91.81218   (decimal degrees)
42°23'59" N, 91°48'44" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/597754/4694851 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 88 N., R. 8 W., Sec. 32
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000755 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 82130 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 12953 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 27, 2015: New photos from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • November 8, 2013: New photos from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • June 9, 2013: New photos from Dylan VanAntwerp

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