2 votes

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge



Photos taken July 2007 by J.R. Manning

BH Photo #109047


Street View 


The Wabash B&B book shows this bridge being constructed in 1890; renewed in 1905. - James Holzmeier

In the spring of 1881 a survey for the proposed Des Moines and St. Louis (D&S) Railroad was made through Marion County. The D&S generally followed the existing Chicago, Burlington and Quincy line from the county's eastern edge to Harvey on its way to Des Moines. At Harvey, however, the D&S branched from the CB&Q route, crossing the Des Moines River about two miles northwest of the CB&Q bridge, and there it extended northward. Construction of the new line began soon after the surveying; by the end of 1882 it was completed. The D&S was later acquired by the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railroad--called the Wabash Railroad--and with it was included this wrought iron truss over the Des Moines River near Harvey. Probably built with construction of the original line in 1882, the Wabash Railroad Bridge, as it has come to be called, consisted of three pinned Pratt through trusses, supported by iron cylinder piers. The bridge carried railroad traffic until it was acquired by Marion County along with the adjacent right-of-way for use as a county road sometime after 1946. (Presumably it acquired its nickname, "One Doller [sic] Bridge," at this time.) In 1951 (possibly the acquisition date) the county rehabilitated the Wabash Bridge, replacing part of its substructure. Since then it has functioned in place, with no additional alterations. The Wabash Railroad Bridge is distinguished as a relatively early, multiple-span example of railroad truss construction [adapted from Fraser 1992].


Three-span through truss bridge over Des Moines River on 216th Place; south approach rebuilt 1943 with I-beam stringers
Marion County, Iowa
Open to pedestrians only
Built 1882 for the Wabash Railroad; rehabilitated for vehicular traffic
- Oliver Iron & Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Iron/Steel Manufacturer)
- Des Moines & St. Louis Railroad (DM&StL)
- Wabash Railroad (WAB)
Pratt through truss w/steel stringer approach span on south ("Railroad East") side, installed 1943
Length of largest span: 155.0 ft.
Total length: 545.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Also called
Wabash - Des Moines River Bridge
One Doller [sic] Bridge
Wabash Railroad Bridge #2891
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.34056, -92.94044   (decimal degrees)
41°20'26" N, 92°56'26" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/504982/4576564 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 76 N., R. 18 W., Sec. 33
Inventory numbers
NRHP 98000501 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 14005 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 8, 2017: New photos from John Marvig
  • October 13, 2016: New photo from Lee Smith
  • October 10, 2016: New photos from Lee Smith
  • December 23, 2014: Updated by James Holzmeier: Updated history and added image of Wabash or N&W bridge data sheet
  • November 8, 2014: Updated by Luke: Merged description from Iowa DOT Historic bridge inventory
  • November 8, 2014: Updated by James Holzmeier: Added Wabash data sheet
  • November 7, 2014: Updated by James Holzmeier: Updated Description
  • February 21, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
  • July 30, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added Dimensions
  • July 4, 2013: New Street View added by Dave King
  • July 3, 2013: New photos from John Marvig
  • April 26, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Des Moines & St. Louis Railroad ", "Rail-to-trail", "Railroad", "Wabash Railroad", "Pin-connected", "Lally columns"
  • September 8, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • March 26, 2008: Updated by J.R. Manning
  • September 24, 2007: Posted all new photos from J.R. Manning


  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Historic Bridges of Iowa - Wabash Railroad Bridge
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Dave King - DKinghawkfan [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Jack Schmidt - jjturtle [at] earthlink [dot] net
  • James Holzmeier - wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Lee Smith - ljsmith_32 [at] hotmail [dot] com


Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted December 23, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

It's always good to get new information! This data is from a late Wabash-era (or very early N&W-era) bridge book...compare the data regarding the East Approach with the data recorded in the other bridge ledger. The entry will be updated shortly.

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted November 9, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

Interestingly, either the Wabash and/or the Norfolk & Western dumped some system boxcars along the river bank northwest of the bridge, for bank stabilization purposes. The remains of the cars can still be seen today, especially at times of low water.

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted November 8, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

Well, this muddies the waters somewhat. Check the dates for Bridge #2891. Some spans were erected in the 1920's, while one of the approach spans dates from the 1890's. The questions about this bridge may never be answered.

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted November 8, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

I am confused about the claim that this bridge was converted for vehicular use in 1951. What bridge did the Wabash RR use to cross the river between the years 1951 and 1968, when the Red Rock Dam project was finally completed?

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted October 21, 2014, by James Holzmeier (wabashry [at] gmail [dot] com)

The Wabash Railroad Bridges & Buildings book for the Western Division, dated 1902, lists the bridge being constructed in 1890, not 1880. With that being said, however, Bridge #2891, as this bridge was officially known on the Wabash, was listed as having only ONE span of 126' length! The bridge is listed as being a Howe Truss bridge. Off to the side, in the Remarks section, is listed the date 1905, with no other remarks other than that. Well, obviously we know there is more than one span to this bridge, so does the "1905" notation mean that the railroad built a new bridge (the current one) in that year? Another RR document I have lists Bridge #2891 as having two 153' and one 150' Thru Truss spans. That document is from 1964. James Holzmeier, Wabash Railroad Historical Society

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 4, 2013, by Don Morrison

Apparently James Oliver had a foundry and did some structural iron and steel work before and during the time he developed the chill-hardening process for plows. His factories were in Indiana. His company later merged with 3 other ag related businesses to become Oliver Tractor in Charles City, Iowa.

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 4, 2013, by Nathan Holth

David, George, and Henry were all involved with the Oliver Iron and Steel Company. Here is a historical article: http://books.google.com/books?id=NmZMAAAAYAAJ&dq=Oliver%20ir...

It states that Oliver Iron and Steel Company was formed in 1888... which is after the construction date given for this bridge. So either the construction date is wrong, or these brands may refer to the previous company they ran called Oliver Brothers & Phillips.

Oliver brands are very rare, but I have found them in both the US and Canada. I assume they all refer to the Pittsburgh company.

Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 4, 2013, by Don Morrison

Oliver Iron & steel?

Perhaps Henry


Or, maybe less likely, James


Wabash Des Moines River Bridge
Posted July 3, 2013, by Don Morrison


An 1875 plat map shows roads approaching the river from both sides and "Durham's Ferry" at the crossing.


In 1901, this bridge is there, but roads still approach the bridge.


This bridge was built in 1880; perhaps the old wood pilings were for a Durham's Ferry Bridge that carried the road before this bridge was built.

If so, it's amazing that they are still visible.

Wabash Railroad Bridge
Posted November 22, 2011, by Ann Kingery (amkingery [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Just to the west of this bridge before the new T17 bridge, there is a sunken sidewheel steamboat on the south side of the Des Moines River. It rests on a sandbar and is visible when the river level is low. I am searching for information about this steamboat and would love to hear back from anyone who can tell me about it. There are many fantastic books that contain information about water travel on the Des Moines River in the mid 1800's. I have learned that keel boats, flat boats, and steamboats all traveled through Marion County. This particular boat has to have a story behind it, and so many people are interested in hearing it.

Wabash Railroad Bridge
Posted January 21, 2008, by Joel Bennett (jpbennett [at] pella [dot] com)

I grew up within miles of this bridge, and some of the adjacent land has been owned by may family for generations. This picture caught me off guard, as I didn't know anyone had done so much research on the bridge. I'm happy to see it on the internet, and even more happy they chose to leave the bridge standing as a pedestrian and fishing bridge instead of destroying it when the new bridge was built a few years ago. A lot of memories here...