1 vote

IARR - South Fork Trestle


North View

Photo taken by Dylan VanAntwerp in December 2016


BH Photo #374017


The huge South Fork Trestle crosses the southern fork of the Iowa River just north of Gifford, Iowa. This extremely large timber pile bridge lies along a recently abandoned section of railroad right-of-way, which was the former Iowa River Railroad. This trackage was recently spun off from the Union Pacific Railroad, which had inherited the line when it had bought out the Chicago and North Western Railway in 1995. The CNW had previously acquired the line when it purchased the Minneapolis and St Louis Railway in 1960, and this line was formerly an M&StL mainline in its heydays.

Measuring approximately 385ft from end-to-end, the South Fork Trestle is considerably longer than Canadian National's large Buffalo Creek Trestle at Winthrop, which measures 321ft long. The bridge is a strong contender for the longest extant timber railroad bridge in the state, possibly sharing that title with another structure in Monroe County. Also measuring approximately 385ft long, the former Union Pacific Lockman Trestle is another recently abandoned timber giant. Ironically, both bridges share common ancestry, as both are former M&StL structures.

The South Fork Bridge was severely damaged by arson on Oct. 14, 2015. A 60ft. section of the middle of the bridge was badly burnt, causing approximately $90,000 worth of damage to the bridge. Unfortunately, this has become a common issue with rail-trail bridges in Iowa. The former IARR truss at Albion has suffered deck damage due to arson, and the Rolling Prairie Trail bridge at Clarksville was closed for three years due to two teenagers burning the wooden deck off and causing $300,000 of damage. In addition, another large bridge east of Dumont, located on a potential additional section of the Rolling Prairie Trail, was damaged by arson in 2010.

The South Fork Trestle currently remains in place with an uncertain future. It is unknown if or when repairs will take place.


Abandoned timber stringer bridge over South Fork Iowa River on Iowa River Rail Trail (Planned)
Hardin County, Iowa
Derelict/abandoned with severe fire damage
Future prospects
Awaiting reconstruction/restoration as part of the future Iowa River Rail Trail
Abandoned 2012, Severely damaged by arson on Oct. 14, 2015
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Iowa River Railroad (IARR)
- Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway (MSTL)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
27 panel open deck pile trestle
Length of largest span: 14.0 ft.
Total length: 385.0 ft.
Also called
IARR - South Fork Bridge
IARR - South Fork Iowa River Bridge
IARR - Gifford Trestle
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.29794, -93.09384   (decimal degrees)
42°17'53" N, 93°05'38" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/492264/4682861 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 74380 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 26, 2016: New photos from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • November 18, 2016: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added categories "Iowa River Rail Trail", "Iowa River Railroad", "Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway", "Chicago & North Western Railway", "Union Pacific Railroad"


  • Dylan VanAntwerp - dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com
  • NorthIowaToday.com - Fire intentionally set on bridge near Iowa Falls, officials say