3 votes

Wapello Bridge



Louis Keck is the man standing on the bridge

Photo provided by Keck Memorial Library


BH Photo #258153



Lost Through truss bridge over Iowa River on Road
Wapello, Louisa County, Iowa
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1873, Westernmost span replaced 1884; Easternmost span replaced and additional span added 1885; Middle 2 piers lost to flooding & 3 spans replaced 1903; Condemned 1945 after a truck carrying limestone dust fell through a span; Removed 1948
- Columbia Bridge Works of Dayton, Ohio (1873 Timber Bowstring)
- D.H. & C.C. Morrison of Dayton, Ohio (D.H. & C.C. Morrison)(1873 Timber Bowstring)
5 150' Timber bowstring through trusses (1873)
1 205' Pratt through truss (1884)
5 150' Pratt through trusses (Easternmost 2 1885; Middle 3 1903)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.18031, -91.18155   (decimal degrees)
41°10'49" N, 91°10'54" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/652520/4560366 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 56873 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • June 1, 2019: New photos from Melissa Brand-Welch
  • January 16, 2019: New photo from Luke
  • July 21, 2018: Updated by Luke: Corrected history; Added cause of loss
  • July 20, 2018: Updated by Luke: Corrected history
  • September 28, 2017: New photos from Dana and Kay Klein
  • December 19, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Adusted wording of builder so it gets listed with other bridges by this builder.
  • August 16, 2013: New photo from Luke Harden
  • August 15, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added info
  • July 2, 2013: New photos from Luke Harden
  • June 30, 2013: Added by Luke Harden

Related Bridges 


Wapello Bridge
Posted June 1, 2019, by Luke

According to https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/542751276/ three spans were saved for reuse at the time of replacement.

One in-county and two elsewhere.

Wapello Bridge
Posted July 21, 2018, by Luke

It could very well be that Wapello opted not to cover their spans.

Wapello Bridge
Posted July 21, 2018, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)


Nice research! Everything makes sense but the 'timber' bowstrings. The Morrisons (CBW) did timber bridges but I think they were covered. These are clearly not.

Any thoughts?


Art S.

Wapello Bridge
Posted July 20, 2018, by Luke

Alright, thanks to info from both "Portrait & Biographical Album of Louisa County" and "USACE Iowa River, Iowa and Minnesota", the timeline is a lot clearer.

The 1873 DH/CC Morrison spans (Which were apparently timber bowstrings) were replaced in stages beginning in with the Westernmost span being replaced in 1884 and the Easternmost span being replaced the following year along with an additional span being added. The middle 3 spans (Visible in picture 4) were replaced in 1903.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by Luke


The link above shows expands on the "near here", and "Between the mouth and Wapello." is still a pretty vague area.

As for the flood date, that came from a picture caption in one of the scans I was given by the LCHS. I can try and find where I put those at and scan that page and post it on here.

It wouldn't be surprising if they replaced the three bowstring spans at once in 1903, though.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This 1912 article: https://books.google.com/books?id=S4EUAAAAYAAJ&dq=Wapello%20... states the following: "The first one was built at Wapello, in 1873 and 1874; it was authorized by supervisors Andrew Gamble, N. M. Letts and P. D. Bailey. It must be noted, to the credit of Gamble and Letts, that this was at a time when the county seat excitement was very great, and that both these men were strong advocates of Columbus Junction.

This bridge was built by D. H. and C. C. Morrison, and its first cost was $13453.50. Wm, G. Allen was the commissioner in charge of its construction. The bridge has been added to since then."

So at least we know the original date and builder are right.

A notice here: https://books.google.com/books?id=abM7AQAAMAAJ&dq=Wapello%20... from 1890 states that in Wapello, Iowa "a bill has passed congress authorizing construction of a bridge across the Iowa River near here."

Although the phrase "near here" makes this uncertain, I am thinking that 1890 might be when some of the bowstring spans were replaced, with the rest replaced in 1903? This may be a reference to another bridge SE of Wapello however. I was unable to find any additional info online.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by Anonymous


Something doesn't make sense regarding the history. Assuming all four pictures are of the same crossing, the bridge had a series of bowstrings that were replaced. The posted history says one span was replaced in 1903.

So is the history:

- CBW builds the bridge in 1873 as a series of bowstrings.

- The largest span is replaced with the tall Pratt in 1903.

- Then the rest of the bowstrings are replaced at a later date.

- Then the entire bridge is replaced with a new bridge on a new alignment in 1948.

Or is the present history incorrect?


Art S.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I strongly doubt the company that built the 1873 spans built the 1903 spans.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by Anonymous

The info I've gotten from the Louisa County Historical Society only mentions D.H. & C.C. Morrison.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 19, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Thanks Luke,

Picture 4 shows a tall Pratt through truss followed by a series of bowstrings. The other three pictures show the tall Pratt through truss followed by a series of lower Pratt through trusses. Are you saying that Columbia Bridge Works (D.H. & C.C. Morrison) built both sets? To me the bowstrings are their style but the Pratts are not.


Art S.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 18, 2014, by Luke

As far as I know, all spans were D.H. & C.C. Morrison.

Wapello Bridge
Posted December 18, 2014, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Are any of the non-bowstring spans Columbia Bridge Works?