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Mill Creek Bridge


Mill Creek Bridge

View from the south end looking north. Taken June 12, 2013.

Photo taken by Dave King


BH Photo #256087



In June 1888 the Cedar County Board of Supervisors received a petition from citizens in Dayton Township for a new bridge over Mill Creek near the township center. The structure would carry wagon traffic on the road that extended northward from the small town of Clarence, in the north part of the county. Supervisor William Hahn viewed the proposed site and recommended that the county erect a single 66-foot iron span on pile bents. What the county built instead was a 58-foot pony truss on concrete-filled iron cylinder piers, with timber stringer approach spans. The board contracted for the bridge's construction with Ward and Keepers, who held Cedar County's annual contract for bridge construction and repair in 1888 and 1889. The Clinton-based bridge builders completed the medium-span truss in 1889. The bridge displayed typical pin-connected design and detailing for its early date; two distinguishing features are the tapered "fishtail" riveted girder floor beams and the inclined lower chords at the outer panels. Over its hundred years of use, the Mill Creek Bridge has undergone several sub-structural alterations, including construction of concrete abutments on the south, encasement of the base of the northeast cylinder with concrete, and construction of new timber pile piers beneath the approach spans. The bridge no longer carries traffic and stands abandoned, with its superstructure intact but the deck in deteriorating condition. Completed in January 1877, the Cedar Bluff Bridge over the Cedar River was the first all-iron span in Cedar County. It was followed by four other modest iron spans later that year. By the time the supervisors undertook the Mill Creek Bridge in 1888, Cedar County had contracted for several other iron spans, including major structures over the Cedar River at Rochester and Cedar Valley. This medium-span pony truss was thus neither the earliest nor the largest all-metal wagon bridge erected by the county. However, it is today distinguished as the last remaining bridge from this formative construction period. The structure is technologically representative for its period of construction. Comprised of a wrought iron, pinned Pratt pony truss, the bridge exemplified wagon bridge construction in Iowa in the late 19th century. One of the state's oldest pony trusses, the Mill Creek Bridge is an important remnant of early Iowa transportation [adapted from Fraser 1990].


Abandoned pratt pony truss bridge over Mill Creek On Plum Avenue
Cedar County, Iowa
Removed and relocated to Whitetails Saloon
Built 1889; Abandoned mid 1970's; Failed relocation to Lowden in 1996; Relocated 2020
- Reeve, Ward & Keepers of Clinton, Iowa
Pinned Pratt Pony Truss with timber approaches
Span length: 58.0 ft.
Total length: 58.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.90443, -91.06472   (decimal degrees)
41°54'16" N, 91°03'53" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/660518/4640975 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 49018 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


19th Century (7,671)
Beam (15,926)
Built 1889 (241)
Built during 1880s (2,017)
Cedar County, Iowa (80)
Iowa (6,545)
Lally columns (315)
Lattice Railing (219)
Lost (25,274)
Lost 2020 (112)
Lost during 2020s (134)
Pin-connected (3,944)
Pony truss (16,315)
Pratt pony truss (3,670)
Pratt truss (9,396)
Reeve, Ward & Keepers (2)
Span length 50-75 feet (10,127)
Timber stringer (4,074)
Total length 50-75 feet (9,326)
Truss (33,144)
Wooden deck (6,087)
Wrought Iron (394)

Update Log 

  • September 25, 2020: Updated by Luke: Bridge has been removed AND relocated for preservation
  • April 14, 2019: Updated by Luke: Noted failed relocation in 96
  • March 20, 2015: Updated by Dave King: Added categories "Lattice Railing", "Lally columns"
  • June 12, 2013: New photos from Dave King
  • March 19, 2012: Updated by Tony Dillon: Fixed coordinates
  • March 19, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Wrought iron"
  • September 6, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: added builder
  • July 1, 2011: Added by Luke Harden

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