Side view from north
Photo taken by Jason Smith
BH Photo #101849
Sgnificance of the Melan Bridge
Written by Janet Landler, engineer, for HAER, 1995
Constructed in 1894, the Melan Arch Bridge marks the first experiment in using the innovative concrete-steel system developed by Austrian Josef Melan. At the urging of a Midwestern contractor, Frederick von Emperger, Melan's representative in America, [von Emperger] designed a 30 foot concrete arch reinforced with structural steel to span a seasonal stream outside of the small town of Rock Rapds in Northwest Iowa.
Although von Emperger's specifications called for 4" I-beams, bent to the elliptical shape of the arch and spaced at 3' intervals, local legend holds that the contractor reinforced the structure with railroad rails to spare expense.
Von Emperger went on to designing several more arches in the United Stats, all with dimensions more impressive than this first modest venture. However, the Rock Rapids bridge remains his most significant work, and the Melan system he introduced there, was adopted widely during the first part of the Twentieth Century for the highway brdges and pedestrian spans.
- Reinforced concrete arch bridge within Emma Sater Park near Rock Rapids, just off IA 9
- Rock Rapids, Lyon County, Iowa
- Open to pedestrians only
- Built 1894 under the direction of Frederick von Emperger; relocated 1964
- - Frederick von Emperger of Beroun, Central Bohemia, Czech Republic. (Designer)
- John Olsen (Builder)
- Josef Melan of Vienna, Austria (Inventor)
- Paul Kingsley of Strawberry Point, Iowa (Rehabbber)
- William Mueser of Moers, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (Supervising Engineer)
- Closed-spandrel arch
Span length: 30.0 ft.
Total length: 30.0 ft.
Deck width: 16.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 18, 1974
- Approximate latitude, longitude
- +43.43253, -96.15456 (decimal degrees)
43°25'57" N, 96°09'16" W (degrees°minutes'seconds")
- Approximate UTM coordinates
- 14/730298/4812781 (zone/easting/northing)
- Quadrangle map:
- Rock Rapids
- Land survey
- T. 99 N., R. 45 W., Sec. 4
- Inventory numbers
- NRHP 74000797 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 13931 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
- November 29, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
- September 15, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "William S. Hewett & Co."
- July 8, 2013: New photos from Luke Harden
- September 10, 2008: Essay added by J.R. Manning
- September 26, 2005: Posted photos from Jason Smith
- HAER IA-15 - Melan Arch Bridge
- Historic Bridges of Iowa
- Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
- J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net