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Eisenhower Bridge


Eisenhower Bridge

Photo taken by Chris Gonnerman in March 2013

License: Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike (CC BY-SA)


BH Photo #251757


Located some two miles east of Milton, this long-span through truss carries a gravel-surfaced county road over the Fox River. It is comprised of a single pinned Pratt truss, which was once part of a two-span structure built between Lee and Des Moines counties in 1888. The supervisors from these two counties first met on September 7, 1887, to view the site for a proposed bridge over the Skunk River on the Burlington/Ft. Madison Road. The next day the men issued a joint resolution, stating: "We recognize the need and necessity for a bridge [here] but having lately gone to considerable expense at the Bridgeport and Augusta Bridges, we therefore deem it expedient at the present time to take definite action in this matter." The two counties dickered into 1888 over their respective shares in paying for the bridge's construction, until, finally, in June they agreed to split the cost with Des Moines County paying three-fifths and Lee County paying two-fifths. Walker's Ferry, near the river's mouth, was chosen as the crossing site, and Chicago engineer Horace B. Horton was commissioned to design the structure. He engineered two designs: one featured a single 360-foot span, the other used two 180-foot trusses, both were to be supported by iron cylinder piers. On June 28th the two boards met in joint session at Fort Madison to open competitive bids for the bridge's construction. Low bidder at $9,435, the James B. Diver Bridge Company of Keokuk was awarded the contract for the two-span design. After its completion, the Walker's Ferry Bridge carried traffic for over forty years, before it was replaced with another structure. In the spring of 1930 one of the trusses was disassembled, moved, and re-erected at this rural Van Buren County crossing to replace an 1895 structure washed out by floods. Known locally as the Eisenhower Bridge, it has since functioned in place with no further alterations.

The Pratt truss was the bridge of choice for an overwhelming majority of Iowa county road crossings in the late 19th century. Before the development of steel as a structural material around 1890, all-metal Pratts were executed in wrought or cast iron. Although thousands of iron trusses were erected throughout the state, relatively few remain in use today. The Eisenhower Bridge is distinguished among these for its well-preserved superstructure, its long span length and its association with nationally prominent bridge engineer Horace Horton. The subsequent inter-county move has compromised its locational integrity, but the truss still remains a noteworthy representative of early wagon bridge construction [adapted from Fraser 1991].


Pratt through truss bridge over Fox River on 252nd Street
Van Buren County, Iowa
Closed to all traffic
Built 1888 as a 2-span bridge between Des Moines and Lee Counties; relocated here in 1930
- Horace E. Horton of Rochester, Minnesota (Designer)
- James B. Diver Bridge Co. of Keokuk, Iowa (Contractor)
- Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (Manufacturer)
Pinned Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 178.2 ft.
Total length: 197.2 ft.
Deck width: 15.7 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 13.3 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Also called
Fox River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.67839, -92.11746   (decimal degrees)
40°40'42" N, 92°07'03" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/574583/4503430 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 68 N., R. 11 W., Sec. 22
Average daily traffic (as of 2014)
Inventory numbers
IA 328160 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 427544 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 14569 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of July 2017)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Critical (2 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 13.1 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • January 15, 2015: New photos from Jason Smith
  • January 9, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added bridge manufacturer.
  • March 29, 2013: New photos from Chris Gonnerman
  • July 29, 2011: Updated by Luke Harden: added NHRP info
  • May 27, 2011: Updated by Tony Dillon: Added name and other information

Related Bridges 



Eisenhower Bridge
Posted August 31, 2020, by K. Allen Ballard (speedeeprint [at] gmail [dot] com)

Visited here, Aug 31, 2020. Pretty overgrown and forlorn. However, bridge is easy to access, very good road, bridge is still pretty solid.

Eisenhower Bridge
Posted January 9, 2014, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I was reviewing my detail photos for this bridge and found distinctive details of the Penn Bridge Company on this bridge. Such as little medallions on the portal bracing that read "PENN." It is documented by the Historic Bridge Inventory that James B. Diver built this bridge... but he must have just done the erection, and actually purchased the bridge from Penn Bridge Company. See details and discussion on my page at http://www.historicbridges.org/bridges/browser/?bridgebrowse...