2 votes

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge


Wabash Railroad Bridge #2185

Wabash Railroad plan

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)


BH Photo #306104



Wabash Railroad Bridge #2185


Lost Double whipple through truss bridge over Soap Creek on former N&W/Wabash RR
Davis County, Iowa
Removed account of line abandonment 1982
- Norfolk & Western Railway (NW)
- Wabash Railroad (WAB)
Double whipple through truss
Length of largest span: 149.0 ft.
Total length: 473.4 ft.
Deck width: 16.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 26.0 ft.
Also called
Wabash Railroad Bridge #2185
Wabash - Big Soap Creek Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.88038, -92.42567   (decimal degrees)
40°52'49" N, 92°25'32" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/548389/4525637 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Ottumwa South
Inventory number
BH 56038 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Beam (16,318)
Built 1911 (808)
Built during 1910s (9,846)
Davis County, Iowa (76)
Iowa (6,689)
Lost (26,855)
Lost 1982 (111)
Lost during 1980s (1,462)
Norfolk & Western Railway (618)
Owned by railroad (13,092)
Railroad (16,165)
Span length 125-175 feet (4,322)
Through truss (15,959)
Timber stringer (4,183)
Total length 250-500 feet (5,376)
Truss (34,243)
Wabash Railroad (590)
Whipple truss (433)

Update Log 

  • November 15, 2014: New photos from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • October 25, 2014: Updated by James Holzmeier: Added related approach spans (north & south)
  • April 16, 2013: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added categories "Wabash Railroad", "Norfolk & Western Railway", "railroad"



Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted November 16, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks for posting these photos, Dylan!

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted November 15, 2014, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

Thanks James. I uploaded the few old photos I still have of this bridge. They were taken with an old flip phone so bear with the quality. More to come someday...

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted November 7, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

Dylan, thank you for your hard work on this. Attached to this are the Wabash data sheets I have been using. The first one lists the bridges coming up to Soap Creek from the south (page 115 is missing; it's the line drawing page posted earlier). The second page is the data sheet for the Soap trestle. I also use the 1902 Wabash Bridge & Building Book for the Western Region as well, but the data in that sometimes does not match the data recorded in these data sheets. I am now working north from Bloomfield on the "major" bridges leading up to Ottumwa, different than those posted earlier. A friend from the Wabash RR Society and I have plans this fall to investigate and photograph the still-extant Village Creek bridge; would love to meet up with you to do some exploring! James Holzmeier, Wabash RR Historical Society

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted October 26, 2014, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

Also I edited the waterway name from "Big Soap Creek" to just "Soap Creek". I lived in the area many years and have never heard of Big Soap Creek; it was always just Soap Creek. Also, every single map I've ever looked at lists it the same way. My guess is the railroad plan is slightly in err, or perhaps they listed it as "Big" to underscore the fact it was a different bridge than other Wabash bridges in the area. After all, the railroad crossed numerous creeks in the area, including several Soap Creek tributaries. A few miles north of this bridge, the railroad crossed over Little Soap Creek; they may have deliberately called this one big to avoid any confusion with any other bridge. Big Soap Creek even might have been an old name for this creek that fell out of favor as time passed by...

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted October 26, 2014, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

James Holzmeier:

First off thanks for digging up that old Wabash info! I grew up in Davis County, but I was born way too late to ever see anything of the Wabash or Rock Island in the area. The Wabash line wound its way through a lot of hilly country and crossed over several waterways in the process. It must have been quite a scenic line, but one that was almost never photographed. I have scoured the internet and only come up with a handful of photos of the Wabash/N&W operations in the area.

The two bridges I listed as Soap Creek Trestle North and South are not the approaches for this bridge. They were further south along the line about a mile from this bridge and within a short distance of each other. One was just south of the former railroad crossing on present day Lime Trail, and the other was just up the valley from it a hundred yards or so. They were timber stringers that crossed over a nameless(?) tributary of Soap Creek that flows into it fairly close to where the truss used to be. Sorry if the names caused any confusion. I just tend to list a bridge by the closest known waterway.

I started at Lime Trail a few years ago and walked up the old ROW to the former bridge site. About halfway between the road and the Soap Creek Bridge was a low area that was crossed by another timber stringer. I listed this as the Soap Creek Bottoms Trestle. Farther north is the remains of the main Soap Creek Bridge itself. I didn't see any remnants of a south approach trestle, but it must have been very short so the dimensions you have match up. There are remnants of the south timber piling abutment poking up out of the bank, as well as a timber piling abutment on the north side. The north one looks essentially complete, while the south abutment has had much of the top chopped off.

North of the bridge are the remnants of a long approach trestle, which again matches the dimensions you found. Many of the pilings still stick up several feet in the air, while others were chopped off pretty low. The whole area is getting overgrown, but that is no surprise considering it was abandoned in 1982. Interestingly, in the woods off to the west of the north approach trestle are some large pieces of a railroad car. Apparently there was a derailment in the area at some point in the past and several large chunks of the car remain.

I took a bunch of photos of the area, but it was all done with a low-quality cell phone camera, and I lost a lot of the pictures when I upgraded. Someday soon I'll get back down there and thoroughly photo-document everything.

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted October 25, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

Appears to be...

Wabash - Soap Creek Bridge
Posted October 25, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Is this a vertical endpost double whipple?