2 votes

Bentonsport Bridge


Photo taken by Shari Harvey

View this photo on Flickr

BH Photo #285971


Bentonsport Bridge

Video Walkover

Ken Ballard

Play video on YouTube


Van Buren County built the Keosauqua Bridge, its first major bridge over the Des Moines River, in 1873. Soon thereafter other communities along the river began clamoring for bridges of their own, prompting the county board of supervisors to pass a resolution in January 1877 regarding bridge construction. In April 1882 the supervisors received petitions for three Des Moines River bridges-- Pittsburgh, Farmington and Bentonsport--along with pledges from the petitioners to help pay for the construction. The board approved all three, appropriating $25,000, "or so much thereof as may be necessary," to build the structures. The county hired local masons Snyder and Kramer for the stonework on the Bentonsport Bridge. The King Iron Bridge and Manufacturing Company would fabricate and erect the wrought iron trusses for $31 per lineal foot. Comprised of five 146-foot, pinned Pratt trusses, the Bentonsport Bridge was completed at a total cost of $33,309.39. In June 1888 the county hired Fair Williams and Company of Ottumwa, Iowa, to install iron ice-breaker plates on the upstream side of the piers. But the ice-breakers could only do so much to protect the bridge. In 1903 a major flood on the Des Moines River inundated the town of Bentonsport and washed away the bridge's middle span. The county contracted with the George E. King Bridge Company of Des Moines to provide a replacement span. Local lore states that the replacement was erected on the frozen river that winter and hoisted into place with derricks. Motive power was provided by elephants from a circus troupe that was wintering nearby in northern Missouri. In 1972 parts of Bentonsport and Vernon--and the bridge--were designated a National Register Historic District. The Bentonsport Bridge carried traffic until 1985. It now functions as a pedestrian bridge to link the two towns. Before the formation of the state highway commission, the individual counties of Iowa built wagon bridges themselves, typically contracting with bridge companies to design, fabricate and erect the all-metal spans. Numerous multiple-span bridges were built in this manner throughout Iowa in the late 19th century, many of the more spectacular examples spanning the Des Moines River in the southeast part of the state. Van Buren County eventually built eight large-scale bridges over the Des Moines River--at Selma, Douds, Keosauqua, Bentonsport, Bonaparte and Farmington. Although not the first such structures built, the Bentonsport Bridge is noteworthy as the oldest remaining intact bridge in the county. In well-preserved condition, the Bentonsport Bridge is an outstanding early wagon truss - one of the last multiple-span bridges from this formative period in Iowa transportation [adapted from Fraser 1991].


Through truss bridge over Des Moines River on trail
Bentonsport, Van Buren County, Iowa
Open to pedestrians
Built 1882, removed from vehicular service 1985
- George E. King Bridge Co. of Des Moines, Iowa (1903 Replacement span)
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio
- Snyder & Kramer of Dayton, Ohio (Stonework)
Pratt through truss
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on April 25, 1972
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.72420, -91.85408   (decimal degrees)
40°43'27" N, 91°51'15" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/596775/4508772 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
NRHP 362730 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 49245 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 11, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • September 7, 2020: New video from K. Allen Ballard
  • March 27, 2015: Updated by Dave King: Added category "Lattice Railing"
  • December 27, 2014: New photos from James Baughn
  • June 19, 2014: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • August 24, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • May 10, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • May 4, 2012: Updated by Tony Dillon: Removed from Rail-to-trail category as this was never a railroad span.
  • May 4, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added additional builder info
  • July 29, 2011: Added by Luke Harden


  • Luke
  • Tony Dillon - spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Historicbridges.org - by Nathan Holth
  • K. Allen Ballard - speedeeprint [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Geoff Hubbs


Bentonsport Bridge
Posted September 7, 2020, by K. Allen Ballard (speedeeprint [at] gmail [dot] com)

Visited here Aug 13, 2020 with my wife and son. Bridge is very solid although has some sketchy places you can see from the pedestrian walkway.

This bridge and little village are a must see if you're passing nearby. There is a nice pavilion for a group picnic, there are bathrooms, a weekend cafe, some nice friendly antique shops, a quaint rose garden. The grounds around the bridge are well kept and tidy. Below is the address for my son's video post of the Benetonsport Bridge walkover.


I was expecting to spend 40 mins here for the bridge doing pics & vids, instead we were here a couple hours and still had more to see. Keosauqua is upstream 6 miles and has some nice eateries and historic riverfront hotel. Another 8 miles west on Hwy 2 is the Dutchman Country Store which in Cantril is another fun store.

There are a few other abandoned bridges not far away in Van Buren Co, plus be sure to see the historic Wickfield Round Barn 2 miles east of Cantril.

Finally, Van Buren County has an annual celebration the 2nd Weekend of October with activities just about everywhere. The Wickfield Barn is open for tours as well.