Bunker Mill Bridge
Photo taken by Nick Schmiedeler in October 2019
BH Photo #458356
Bunker Mill Bridge
Written by Jason Smith
Spanning the English River southeast of Kalona, the Bunker Mill Bridge exemplifies a work of art that was built and/or rehabilitated by more than one bridge builder. The bridge was built in 1887 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, OH with assistance of George E. King, who had already started his business in Des Moines. It is one of only a handful of bridges that were built by a father-son duo, for the King Bridge Company was still being run by Zenas King. Built of wrought iron provided by Zenas King and the Phoenix Iron Company, construction of the bridge was completed in May 1887 and Washington County agreed to pay $3487 for the 120 ft. through truss span plus approach spans totalling 170 ft., although King received just under $2900 in reality.
In 1909, the county contracted with Iowa Bridge Company in Des Moines to rehabilitate the bridge at the cost of $1325. While it is unknown why or even how it was done, the rehabilitation work included replacing iron parts with that of steel and reinforcing the Town lattice portal bracing with M-frame portal bracings, making the bridge one of only a few remaining in the country with more than one portal bracing on each end. The bridge continued its service to cars and pedestrians alike for the next 95 years, and was even featured in the Hallmark film Harvest of Fire, filmed in 1997. The bridge was closed to traffic in 2004 but remained open to pedestrians and fishermen who enjoyed crossing the structure and enjoying the stories that occurred at or near the crossing.
Sources: FraserDesign & HessRoise Survey, 1992
- Pratt through truss bridge over English River on Nutmeg Avenue
- Kalona, Washington County, Iowa
- Open to pedestrians only
- Built 1887; M-frame portal bracing was added to the Town Lattice portal bracing in 1909.; Closed to traffic in 2003; Damaged by arson in 2013; Restored 2013-2017
- - George E. King Bridge Co. of Des Moines, Iowa (1887 Original Construction)
- Iowa Bridge Co. (1902-193X) of Des Moines, Iowa (1909 Rehabilitation)
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio (1887 Original Construction)
- Phoenix Iron Works of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (Iron Manufacturer)
- Schiffer Group Inc. of Traverse City, Michigan (Restoration Engineer)
- Pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge with Town Lattice and M-frame portal bracing.
Length of largest span: 118.1 ft.
Total length: 290.0 ft.
Deck width: 13.5 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 11.6 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
- Also called
- Kalona Bridge
Nutmeg Avenue Bridge
English River Bridge
Old River Bridge
- Approximate latitude, longitude
- +41.46815, -91.68838 (decimal degrees)
41°28'05" N, 91°41'18" W (degrees°minutes'seconds")
- Approximate UTM coordinates
- 15/609526/4591558 (zone/easting/northing)
- Quadrangle map:
- Land survey
- T. 77 N., R. 7 W., Sec. 17
- Average daily traffic (as of 2010)
- Inventory numbers
- IA 337570 (Iowa bridge number)
BH 14665 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
- Inspection report (as of March 2011)
- Overall condition: Poor
Substructure condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
View more at BridgeReports.com
- October 11, 2022: New photo from Luke
- December 29, 2020: New photo from Luke
- October 16, 2020: New photo from Luke
- May 23, 2020: New photo from Luke
- October 15, 2019: New photos from Nick Schmiedeler
- January 23, 2017: Updated by Julie Bowers: Bridge has been opened.
- May 18, 2016: New photos from Patrick S. O'Donnell
- April 4, 2016: Updated by Jason Smith: Updated the status of the bridge and included article
- July 24, 2014: New photo from Julie Bowers
- June 2, 2014: Updated by Julie Bowers: changing status updates.
- February 21, 2014: New photos from Jack Schmidt
- October 14, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Added categories "arsoned", "Privately owned"
- October 12, 2013: Essay added by Julie Bowers
- October 11, 2013: Updated by Julie Bowers: status update to new owners.
- October 1, 2013: Updated by Julie Bowers: keeping it real for data validity. verified by NASA.
- September 30, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Fixed typo
- September 28, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Added category "Wrought iron"
- September 28, 2013: Updated by Julie Bowers: new owners almost in place.
- September 16, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Updated information on the bridge
- September 7, 2013: Updated by Julie Bowers: where is the proof for iowa bridge co?
- September 1, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Removed drivel from the description box.
- August 12, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Phoenix Iron Co."
- October 26, 2012: Updated by Jason Smith: Added categories "Town lattice portal bracing", "Pin-connected", "English River (Iowa)"
- August 7, 2012: Updated by Jason Smith: Updated the information on the bridge
- July 12, 2012: Updated by Nathan Holth: Bridge to be rehabbed. Added exact closure date, and added common name.
- September 6, 2011: Updated by Jason Smith: Added information on the bridge
- July 18, 2011: Updated by Jason Smith: Bridge is still standing