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White Water Creek Bridge


Elevation From West

Photo by Joe Elliott, Summer 1995, for HAER

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #122720


The White Water Creek Bridge is part of the Dubuque Wagon bridge, built in 1868 to cross the Mississippi River between Dubuque and Dunleith (now East Dubuque), Illinois. After years of promoting for a railroad bridge by various Dubuque citizen's groups, the Dubuque and Dunleith Bridge Company was formed in 1866. In January 1868* the company contracted with the Keystone Bridge Company of Philadelphia to fabricate and erect the bridge's superstructure. Reynolds, Saulpaugh and Company of Rock Island, Illinois, were hired to build the substructure. Work on the first abutment began on January 27th; on December 15th the bridge was completed. Extending 1,760 feet in length, the bridge consisted of six stationary trusses and a 360-foot swing span. All of the fixed spans featured Keystone's patented sectional-tube trusses, which made extensive use of ornamental cast iron compression members and connector blocks. Immediately west of the main bridge over the river's channel was a shorter bridge over a slough. This second structure was comprised of pinned Pratt through trusses, which also employed the classic Keystone configuration. The main bridge was replaced in parts--the swing span replaced in 1893, the easternmost fixed truss replaced with earth fill in 1899, three of the western fixed trusses rebuilt in 1899 and the remaining two fixed trusses rebuilt in 1903. The extensive timber trestle over the west floodplain was replaced with earth fill, and, at some point, the approach bridge over the western slough was removed. Dubuque County acquired at least two of the spans from this latter structure, using them on county roads. The White Water Creek Bridge in White Water Township is one of those spans. It was moved and re-erected at an unknown date on this rural crossing near the southern county line. Here it has carried relatively light vehicular traffic. The floor system has been modified somewhat to accommodate the wider roadway, but the truss superstructure remains in unaltered and well-preserved condition. The importance of the Dubuque and Dunleith Bridge to interstate commerce can hardly be understated. As one of the first permanent bridges over the Mississippi River, it ensured Dubuque's role as a regional trade nexus and, on a broader scope, helped facilitate the western movement after the Civil War. Removed from the context of the original, multiple-span structure, this single span's role on a minor county road is less momentous in its historical contribution. But as one of the last two remaining fragments of the original railroad structure, it enjoys a degree of significance, despite its radical change of setting. The White Water Creek Bridge is technologically significant as one of the last remaining examples in America of cast iron truss construction. Built by one of the country's premier bridge fabricators of the 1860s, it features Keystone's patented cast iron columns and ornamental cast iron connector blocks. One of Iowa's oldest surviving all-metal bridges, the White Water Creek Bridge is distinguished as a rare survivor from the country's earliest period of all-iron bridge construction [adapted from Fraser 1992].

The Significance of the White Water Creek Bridge 

Written by Robert W. Jackson, August 1995 for HAER

This bridge is a remaining span of a seven-span approach bridge built in 1872 to serve a larger seven-span bridge built in 1868 over the Mississippi River at Dubuque. The larger bridge was the first to span the Mississippi at Dubuque, and was one of the earliest of all Mississippi River bridges. The superstructures of both the approach bridge and the river bridge were fabricated and erected by the Keystone Bridge Company, one of the most important and long-lived bridge companies of the nineteenth century. This span is one of the oldest iron trusses still in use in Iowa, and is the only Keystone truss known to be in use in the state.


Through truss bridge over White Water Creek on Whitewater Drive
Dubuque County, Iowa
Replaced by a new bridge; Truss bridge relocated to a park in Dubuque
Built 1872 as part of a seven-span bridge over a Mississippi River slough at Dubuque; relocated here ca. 1890; and again back to Dubuque to serve as a recreational area at a local park in 2007
- Keystone Bridge Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Pin-connected, 8-panel, wrought- and cast-iron Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 92.9 ft.
Total length: 94.2 ft.
Deck width: 14.4 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 14.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Also called
Dubuque and Dunleith Railroad bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.30381, -90.91188   (decimal degrees)
42°18'14" N, 90°54'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/672111/4685620 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 88 N., R. 1 W., Sec. 24
Inventory numbers
IA 146770 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 98000787 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
IA 146040 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 13445 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 26, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added description and alternate name
  • November 8, 2010: Updated by Jason Smith: Added the bridge dimension
  • August 27, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • August 19, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated NHRP Listing

Related Bridges 



White Water Creek Bridge
Posted May 12, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Very interesting how the flanges of the column sections are not riveted together flat, but appear to have spacers that separate them slightly.

White Water Creek Bridge
Posted May 12, 2011, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)


Here's a better link to this article:


I plan on visiting this bridge in August while enroute to St. Louis so I can get some shots for the Chronicles as well as for this website.

White Water Creek Bridge
Posted May 10, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This bridge will be placed in its new location today.