8 votes

Cascade Bridge


Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #115343

Street View 


Located in Burlington in southeastern Des Moines County, the four-span deck truss Cascade Bridge carries South Main Street across the Cascade Ravine. The bridge is comprised of a Baltimore deck truss, with Pratt deck trusses at both the north and south ends. The structure is supported by stone and concrete abutments along with concrete pedestals and a single concrete-filled steel cylinder pier. In April of 1896, the Burlington City Council directed the city engineer to advertise for plans and estimates for a "high bridge on lower Main Street across the Cascade." The bridge was originally not to be more than 400 feet long and not less than 240 feet long and "built in such a manner as to permit vehicles of all kinds to travel in opposite directions on said street car tracks and to have sidewalks on either side of not less than 6 feet in width for foot passengers." A petition was received by the court in support of the proposed bridge's construction from Cascade Lumber Company, who would apparently benefit economically from the new crossing. Estimated to cost $16,000, the county engineer, S.D. Eaton, advertised separately for the bridge's construction, eventually receiving six bids for the entire project. After much discussion and debate over the eminent contract award, the city council determined that it would be in their best interest if they would contract with the Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works for the superstructures and have the city build the concrete substructure. The Milwaukee, Wisconsin, firm contracted with the city for the aggregate sum of $13,900 for the fabrication and erection of the massive trusses. Using steel components rolled by Carnegie Steel Company and fabricating the truss according to design plans drawn up by the Cedar Rapids-based firm of Boynton and Warriner, the bridge was completed in the fall of 1896. The original deck has been replaced with a steel grid deck and concrete has been added to the face of the stone abutments, but the bridge remains otherwise unaltered. Continuing to function in place in its urban setting, the Cascade Bridge retains an unusually high degree of structural and historical integrity. With its pin-connected Baltimore trusses supported dramatically above the ravine, it is one of Iowa's most significant and unusual urban bridges [adapted from Crow-Dolby and Fraser 1992]


Deck truss bridge over Cascade Ravine on S. Main Street in Burlington
Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa
Closed; Doomed
Future prospects
Built 1896; reinforced in 1905; rehabilitated 1960; Closed 2008; Foot traffic allowed 2010; Closed to foot traffic 2019
- Boynton & Warriner of Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Design)
- Carnegie Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Metal Manufacturer)
- Milwaukee Bridge & Iron Works of Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Contractor)
- Burlington Railway & Light Co. (BR&L)
- Streetcar
Baltimore deck truss with 3 Pratt Trusses - 2 90' and 1-60'
Length of largest span: 204.0 ft.
Total length: 464.0 ft.
Deck width: 39.8 ft.
Also called
The Singing Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.78129, -91.09854   (decimal degrees)
40°46'53" N, 91°05'55" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/660447/4516218 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2006)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000793 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 900 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 13389 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of August 2008)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Critical (2 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 35.6 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • November 21, 2021: Updated by Luke: Replacement scheduled for 2026
  • April 24, 2019: Updated by Luke: Noted that bridge has been closed to foot traffic as well
  • March 26, 2018: New photo from David Shedlock
  • April 15, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added categories "Burlington Electric Railway Co.", "Streetcar"
  • September 1, 2013: New photos from Jason Smith
  • August 16, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • April 23, 2013: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • April 13, 2012: New photos from Quinn Phelan
  • April 13, 2012: Updated by Julie Bowers: current plans in hand
  • September 21, 2011: New photo from Luke Harden
  • September 8, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: added builder and description
  • December 10, 2008: Updated by Kim Harvey: updated status on bridge
  • June 16, 2008: New photos from Historic American Engineering Record



Cascade Bridge
Posted May 19, 2021, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)
Cascade Bridge
Posted March 17, 2021, by Luke
Cascade Bridge
Posted November 26, 2019, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Friends of Cascade Bridge funding a site visit to get Nels and Jim to this bridge in December.

Been 7 years that we've wanted our hands and eyes on the number 1 historic truss in Iowa.

$8,000 Goal for engineering report for Historic Cascade Bridge. $30 per like to this page pays for this feasibility study. Do you want to know what these preservationists think? ](https://www.gofundme.com/f/friends-of-the-cascade-bridge)Donate please.

Cascade Bridge
Posted August 7, 2014, by James Wireman (jameslovesbridges_86 [at] ymail [dot] com)

This bridge is not Doomed. This bridge can be saved. Did you hear me? This bridge is not doomed. this bridge is not doomed. This bridge is not Doomed. This bridge is not Doomed. This bridge is not Doomed. This bridge can be saved.

Cascade Bridge
Posted September 23, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Not doomed. We have a grant letter to bring the Workin' Bridges experts in anyway for the Friend of the Bridge. More will be revealed. We didnt bail on this project. FHWA made us.

Cascade Bridge
Posted September 22, 2013, by James Wireman (jameslovesbridges_86 [at] ymail [dot] com)

I said This bridge is not Doomed. It says it is but its not.

Cascade Bridge
Posted September 22, 2013, by James Wireman (jameslovesbridges_86 [at] ymail [dot] com)

The Bridge is not doomed. Do you hear me? The bridge is not doomed. This bridge is Restorable. This bridge is not Doomed, This bridge is not doomed.

Cascade Bridge
Posted August 25, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

FWHA Stepped in on and over our experts roundtable and squished us. Totally wrong on their end. Sidestepped SHPO and had a conference call with the city stating Workin' Bridges cant host a roundtable. Only the city can do that. City has no money and we can't fundraise for the city. Oh and Shuck Britson engineer wanted us to pay 4 to 5k for his participation when our incredibly certified experts would work for two days hard for 1500 plus hospitality. Bullshit pure and simple.

I Will go to Advisory Council on Historic Preservation next week and continue to cry foul. Federal Highway owns DOTs and overstepped their authority and I wont be shut up about this travesty. SIT IN A CUBICLE AND MAKE DECISIONS ON A REPORT rather than being on the cutting edge of preservation.

Where's the a barf bag?

Cascade Bridge
Posted August 13, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Moving forward with the restoration experts.

Cascade Bridge
Posted August 13, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Moving forward with the restoration experts.

Cascade Bridge
Posted May 22, 2013, by Julie Bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Contact IaDOT

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 16, 2013, by Julie bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Most of the talking and all of those contacts have been made going through sec106 and out for comments at this time.

Petitions, groups all have been trying including us at the request of the citizens. Every little bit helps though this process is nearly complete.

I mean cut and welded gusset plates on every pin on the Pratt trusses.

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 16, 2013, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

I'll be down there in a couple weeks. I might make an attempt to talk to Burlington.

What do you mean the rods, eye bars and pins have been "cut"?

I think it might be time for someone to get in contact with the NRHP and other preservation groups. I wonder if distributing flyers around the town of nearly 27,000 to raise awareness for the bridge would do anything?

Good to hear the city can't do anything right away.

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 16, 2013, by Julie bowers (Jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

You can go to Burlington city office to request a copy of shpo report. A final decision has not been made.

The bridges pins, eye bars and rods have all been cut and welded on the three party's. degradation to the piers from deliberate water runoff and neglect by the city so they can have a new bridge.

The good thing is the city has no money so we will see.

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 15, 2013, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

How threatening and immediate is demolition? I would think petitions, raising awareness and ultimately finding someone to create a non-profit would be a good approach. Just a suggestion...

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 15, 2013, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

We know the Cascade Bridge can be fixed, but good luck convincing the people in charge.

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 14, 2013, by JAMES (jameslovesbridges_86 [at] ymail [dot] com)

Hey there, The Cascade Bridge is not Doomed; I Believe this Bridge can be fixed.

Cascade Bridge
Posted September 16, 2012, by Anonymous


We feel restoration very different and more cost effective. May still give a bid. Way more effective but we are not surprised by this outcome.....no real site visit...took city findings. No other solutions.....


Cascade Bridge
Posted April 26, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)


read all about the bidding process.

Cascade Bridge
Posted April 13, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

and the research I ran into Shive-Hatterly is the offshoot of Boynton and Warriner. they are continuing a tradition or engineering. I emailed to ask if they had any old plans of the Cascade Bridge hanging about.... you never know. Have the proposal written .1a of preservation in kind of this bridge, but it has been hacked apart. can it be saved? only the best craftsmen and engineers know. I have a gut feeling but ....... more will be revealed for the Cascade bridge. At least we give her a chance for restoration.

Cascade Bridge
Posted April 13, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Boynton & Warriner was from Cedar Rapids. I updated the category to mention this. Info about F. R. Warriner:

F. R. Warriner (Alpha-Kappa) was graduated in civil engineering from Cornell in 1893. In 1895 he opened the engineering office of Boynton & Warriner, at Cedar Rapids, Iowa. In 1902 he was elected city engineer of Cedar Falls, Iowa, which office he now holds. From 1900 to 1902 he was secretary of the Iowa Society of Civil Engineers.

Source: Caduceus of Kappa Sigma, Volume 20, 1905.

Cascade Bridge
Posted April 13, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Boynton and Warriner. They only come up once on the website. Special? Sorry about the duplicate posts, I blame my smart phone and my desire to use the back key, which doesn't work well when you have just posted in BridgeHunter.

We are working on the proposal, due next Friday, on the "Restoration In-Kind" for this bridge. The 1960 rehab work has caused a lot of harm to this bridge and restoring her to that position, paralleling the Mississippi would be outstanding.

Any input on "In-Kind" would be terrific.


Cascade Bridge
Posted April 11, 2012, by julie bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Section 106 has kicked in. I have never seen a rehab do this to every pin connection and lateral welded and filled with concrete. Anybody seen this?


Cascade Bridge
Posted March 31, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Does anybody have photos,up close, of the connections in this bridge. I can't get down there until 2nd week of April, but we need images to put in a proposal for in-kind restoration....thanks.


Cascade Bridge
Posted March 21, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Tony, in the spring our state smells like crap so those names are redolent for sure. It will be interesting to see the RFP for this one.

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 20, 2012, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This is a significant and rare beauty and hopefully the city will have no other choice but to rehabilitate it.

I had to chuckle while looking around the map of this vicinity...which features such charming locations as Sewer Trail and Crapo Park. :)

Cascade Bridge
Posted March 20, 2012, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

The City of Burlington has to get another engineering report on this bridge which is great news. http://www.thehawkeye.com/story/CascBridge030212 read about it here.

workin' bridges has requested the rfp and will have more info soon.

Cascade Bridge
Posted February 23, 2012, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

The bridge apparently used to carry the trolley system for Burlington at one point (Refer to the postcard I've linked to the page)

Cascade Bridge
Posted May 16, 2009, by Ian Anderson (macsignals [at] gmail [dot] com)