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MSTL - Skunk River Bridge


Iowa Department of Transportation


BH Photo #345467


Build date provided by ICC Valuation Summary Report, courtesy Doug Harding collection.


Lost Deck plate girder bridge over Skunk River on Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway
Coppock, Jefferson County, Iowa
Built 1916; Abandoned 1974 & sold to private owners; Order removed 1990
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway (MSTL)
Deck plate girder
Length of largest span: 65.0 ft.
Also called
MSTL - Bridge #781
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.16153, -91.71768   (decimal degrees)
41°09'42" N, 91°43'04" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/607582/4557481 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 54801 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 17, 2019: Updated by Luke: Added loss date
  • May 17, 2019: Updated by John Marvig: added build date from ICC records
  • December 9, 2016: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added category "Skunk River"
  • January 12, 2016: New photo from Luke
  • March 26, 2013: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added category "Owned by railroad"
  • December 4, 2012: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • December 4, 2012: Added by Luke Harden



M&StL - Skunk River Bridge
Posted June 17, 2020, by Douglas W. Jones (douglas-w-jones [at] cs [dot] uiowa [dot] edu)

The first bridge on this site was built by the Central Iowa Railway in 1882. This line was an ancestor of the Iowa Central, which was absorbed by the M&STL. All of these lines came into Coppock by a bridge across Crooked Creek, geographic coordinates 41.162778,-91.716111. I don't know the history of either bridge in any more detail, but: The Central Iowa Railway and the Burlington and Western both built through Coppock, Iowa in 1882, and fought serious battles over the alignment of their Skunk River bridges, with crews from each line tearing out work done by the other. In the end, they built parallel spans. I believe that State Highway 78 roughly follows the alignment of the B&W through Coppock. The CB&Q took over the B&W in 1903 and abandoned the line in 1934. Links to my sources for this discussion are in the new Wikipedia page for the Burlington and Western Railway. The lengths of the two Skunk River bridges built by the B&W are in their annual reports -- this being the longest bridge on their line, the early reports give figures like number of iron bridges, average length of iron bridges, and longest iron bridge.