1 vote

Cherry Street Bridge


Iowa Department of Transportation


BH Photo #270819


Street View 


On March 7, 1929, the Butler County Board of Supervisors awarded a contract to the A. Olson Construction Company to build a concrete arch bridge on Cherry Street in the town of Shell Rock. The Waterloo-based bridge builder erected the structure, which replaced a 140-foot steel through truss, using special plans designed in January 1929 by the Iowa State Highway Commission. The highway commission's plans--Butler County Design No. 229--called for a 100-foot reinforced open-spandrel concrete arch, with a 24-foot roadway width and a 5-foot sidewalk. The span required 544.6 cubic yards of concrete and 16,960 pounds of reinforced steel in its arch ribs. Olson completed the structure during the summer of 1929 for a cost of $15,690. County supervisor's records show that between May and August 1929, Olson received four Butler County warrants, totaling $23,780.58. These payments evidently included compensation for the Cherry Street Bridge. During its existence, the span has carried local traffic over a tributary of the Shell Rock River. At some point the original lights were removed from the guardrail bulkheads, but otherwise, the bridge retains a high degree of physical integrity. The significance of this handsomely proportioned bridge is technological and aesthetic. Despite an often-stated preference for concrete for highway bridges, the state highway commission designed steel trusses for its medium- and long-span structures. As a result, most of Iowa's concrete arches feature relatively short spans and filled spandrel configurations. The 1992 statewide historic bridge inventory identified fewer than ten open-spandrel arches, all in urban or small-town settings. At these locations ISHC employed open spandrel arches, regarded by many engineers of the time to embody the highest aesthetic of bridge design, to blend its bridges with the built environment. A well-preserved, well-proportioned example of an uncommon structural type, the Cherry Street Bridge thus represents a rare foray into aesthetics by a highway department widely known for its starkly utilitarian engineering [adapted from Fraser 1990].


Arch bridge over a drainage ditch on Cherry Street in Shell Rock
Shell Rock, Butler County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1900
- A. Olson Construction Co. of Waterloo, Iowa
- Iowa State Highway Commission of Ames, Iowa (Designer)
Open-spandrel arch
Length of largest span: 100.1 ft.
Total length: 106.0 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on June 25, 1998
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.70794, -92.58598   (decimal degrees)
42°42'29" N, 92°35'10" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/533905/4728466 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Shell Rock
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000753 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 10270 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 12975 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of May 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: 43.1 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • March 28, 2014: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • November 22, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder & pic
  • July 25, 2011: New Street View added by Jason Smith


  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net