3 votes

Ely's Stone Bridge


Barrel Shot Looking North

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in September 2012


BH Photo #239815



Ely's Stone Bridge, as this three-span structure is known, spans Wet Creek in Lovell Township in northern Jones County. This rare stone masonry arch traces its history to 1893. Early that year the Jones County supervisors let a construction contract to Reuben Ely and his son, both from Monticello, to build a stone bridge at this location. By November the court had authorized a $400 warrant "to pay Reuben Ely for building a stone arch bridge near William Wood's place in Monticello Township." Monticello Township no longer exists, but part of its original area is now included in Lovell Township. One year later, the county expended $55 for unspecified minor repairs to the bridge. In more recent years, the bridge's pier foundations have been reinforced with concrete in order to protect the stone from water scouring. Ely's Stone Bridge, barring these maintenance-related additions, continues to carry traffic while maintaining an extremely high degree of both historic and structural integrity. Reuben Ely Sr., a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, moved in the 1820s to Monticello, Iowa, where he established a family farm. Nearly seventy years after he moved to Iowa, Ely and his son constructed this impressive stone arch over Wet Creek in 1893, presumably to facilitate local travel. The 68-foot structure is notable for its three centered elliptical arches. Donald Jackson's classic preservation book, Great American Bridges and Dams, notes that the "stone for the piers and spandrel walls came from the local stream bed, while the dressed stone used for the voussoirs was obtained from the quarries at Anamosa." Now more than one hundred years old, Ely's Stone Bridge continues to carry traffic across Wet Creek. Displaying an exceptionally high degree of indigenous craftsmanship and historical integrity, the bridge has been individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places [adapted from Hybben, Roise and Fraser 1992].


Stone arch bridge over Wet Creek on Stone Bridge Road
Jones County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1893
- Reuben Ely Jr. of Monticello, Iowa
- Reuben Ely Sr. of Monticello, Iowa
Stone arch
Length of largest span: 20.0 ft.
Total length: 68.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.5 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.25802, -91.22639   (decimal degrees)
42°15'29" N, 91°13'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/646293/4679946 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Hopkinton East
Land survey
T. 86 N., R. 3 W., Sec. 17
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
IA 209010 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 13796 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of February 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 20.6 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • October 9, 2016: New photos from Quinn Phelan
  • September 23, 2012: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • September 22, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builders
  • July 26, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: Corrected name, tweaked the numbers, and added description



Ely's Stone Bridge
Posted September 30, 2017, by Luke

County still retains ownership, but control and preservation is now in the hands of the Jones County Historical Society, who is fundraising for preservation: http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/news-track-preservati...

Ely's Stone Bridge
Posted December 20, 2016, by Luke

The county is currently vetting options on what to do, one of which is demolition and replacement with a box culvert.

Attached are three letters to the Gazette that support saving the bridge, including one from a descendant of the stonemason.




Ely's Stone Bridge Restoration
Posted October 9, 2016, by Quinn Phelan (qphelan [at] earthlink [dot] net)

See the link below about the ongoing restoration project. There are petitions to request that the Jones County Board of Supervisors save and restore the bridge available to sign at local businesses in Monticello and around Jones county. The alternative is a teardown and replacement with a concrete bridge. There has also been talk of turning the bridge into a pedestrian and bike trail and/or park.

Local news story on restoration efforts:


Ely's Stone Bridge
Posted May 17, 2016, by Anonymous