4 votes

Chain Lakes Bridge


Crosses the Cedar River

Twin pinned Pratt through truss design.

Photo taken by Iowa DOT


BH Photo #130572

Street View 


From the Iowa DOT web site

Description: The Chain Lakes Bridge is a substantial two-span structure over the Cedar River northwest of Cedar Rapids, just south of the small community of Palo. The bridge now serves pedestrians visiting a nature area maintained by the Linn County Conservation Board. A picnic area and boat landing are near the bridge's south approach; the northern bank is heavily wooded. County board minutes are somewhat unclear about the history of this bridge, but planning for it apparently began in the early 1880s. In June 1880 the Board of Supervisors appropriated $20,000 for this two-span, pinned Pratt truss on massive stone abutments and piers. Information regarding bridge construction is not included in subsequent board minutes, although a now-removed bridge plate recorded the contractor as the Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio, and the date of erection as 1884. The Wrought Iron Bridge Company was organized by David Hammond in 1864, and incorporated in 1871. It was active in Linn County from at least 1879, receiving contracts for a number of bridges. In 1900, the company was absorbed by the American Bridge Company. The wrought-iron Chain Lakes Bridge continues to serve pedestrians in its heavily wooded location.
With virtually all of the in-state and national bridge companies promoting it, the pin-connected Pratt through truss was the steel bridge of choice for medium- and large-scale crossings in Iowa in the late 19th century. Thousands of such spans were erected on the state's road system during this period of intense bridge construction activity, and today they remain the most populous structural type remaining from the 19th century. The Chain Lakes Bridge is distinguished among these for its two-span configuration, its early erection date and its outstanding state of preservation.


Two-span through truss bridge over Cedar River on Pedestrian trail over the Cedar River, 4 miles west of Hiawatha, IA in Palo
Palo, Linn County, Iowa
Open to pedestrians
Built 1884 by Wrought Iron Bridge Company of Canton, Ohio
- Wrought Iron Bridge Co. of Canton, Ohio
pinned Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 165.0 ft.
Total length: 370.0 ft.
Deck width: 15.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Approximate latitude, longitude
+42.05011, -91.77548   (decimal degrees)
42°03'00" N, 91°46'32" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/601333/4656065 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
Section 33, T84N-R8W (Fayette Township)
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000529 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 38392 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 27, 2021: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added dimensions.
  • January 29, 2018: New Street View added by Luke
  • October 26, 2014: New photos from Dave King
  • October 1, 2013: Photo imported by Dave King
  • March 24, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added GPS Coordinates
  • January 2, 2009: New photos from Quinn Phelan
  • December 18, 2008: Essay added by Quinn Phelan



Posted February 20, 2017, by Michael grow ( mgrow5260 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I remember Crossing the chain Lakes Bridge with my mom and dad and the boards rattling underneath the tires scared me to death I must have been four or five years old while going across one day I even saw a hobo across the railroad tracks wonderful memories I'm 62 years old now

Chain Lakes Bridge
Posted June 18, 2015, by Jeremy

I discovered Chain Lakes by accident after relocating to Cedar Rapids in 2009. I've come to love that park and go out there fairly often to escape the city and just enjoy some solitude on the bridge.

Chain Lakes bridge
Posted February 21, 2010, by Phil Christensen (thronetogether [at] juno [dot] com)

I really like this beautiful bridge near Palo - actually wrote an instrumental called "Beyond the Bridge at Chain Lakes."