5 votes

IC - East Omaha Swing Bridge


IC Swing Bridge

IC Swing Bridge

Photo taken by Brad J Williams in January 2007


BH Photo #150345

Street View 


Through truss swing bridge over Missouri River on Canadian National Railway
Council Bluffs, Douglas County, Nebraska, and Pottawattamie County, Iowa
Closed to all traffic
Future prospects
Coast Guard wants the bridge removed
Built 1893 by Phoenix Bridge Company, second swing span built in 1903 by American Bridge Co.
- American Bridge Co. of New York (Nebraska Span Superstructure)
- Foundation Co. of New York (1903 Substructure)
- Phoenix Bridge Co. of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania (Iowa Span Superstructure)
- Sooysmith & Co. of New York (Substructure)
- Waddell & Hedrick of Kansas City, Missouri (Nebraska Span Designer & Consulting Engineer)
- Canadian National Railway (CN)
- Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad (CC)
- Illinois Central Railroad (IC; ICG (1972-1988))
Swing Bridge spans with through girder approaches
Length of largest span: 525.0 ft.
Total length: 1,625.0 ft.
Also called
East Omaha Bridge
IC - Missouri River Swing Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.27806, -95.89104   (decimal degrees)
41°16'41" N, 95°53'28" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/257870/4573657 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Omaha North
Inventory number
BH 43694 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 19, 2022: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • March 4, 2020: Updated by Luke: Doomed
  • September 29, 2019: Updated by Luke: Added category "Rail-and-trail"
  • May 19, 2017: New photos from John Marvig
  • September 11, 2016: Updated by Luke: Added historical imagery
  • October 20, 2015: New photos from John Marvig
  • October 18, 2015: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • October 9, 2014: New Street View added by Ralph Demars
  • September 22, 2014: Updated by Andy Winegar: Changed status. Bridge to be abandoned
  • January 31, 2014: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • January 24, 2014: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • July 14, 2011: New photo from Joe Underwood
  • December 4, 2009: New photo from Eric Miller
  • December 2, 2009: Added by Brad J Williams



IC - East Omaha Swing Bridge
Posted May 14, 2022, by JR Hill (jrhillyst [at] yahoo [dot] com)

In the late '70s I visited that bridge many times. From the Iowa side I pulled onto the tracks at a crossing and drove down the tracks ready to take the ditch. My trusty 'ol Landcruiser had no problem. There was still some usage of the track/bridge at the time but any train moved pretty slowly. We explored the bridge in detail, marveling at how that thing was constructed and balanced.

IC - East Omaha Swing Bridge
Posted March 4, 2020, by Luke

Instead of focusing on the rampant levee failures during the Missouri River flooding last year, the Coast Guard is pursuing the removal of this historic double swing bridge.

IC Missouri River Swing Bridge (Omaha)
Posted January 19, 2014, by Anonymous

"but, how was it made to turn?"

Well they are usually turned by an electric motor and there is a huge reduction gear that transmits the motion to a smaller gear which engages the base of the turn table. Each end has a locking device.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted July 2, 2013, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Canadian National owns the Illinois Central.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted July 2, 2013, by Gene Finke (genefinke [at] windstream [dot] net)

I always thought this was a Chicago and Northwestern Swing Bridge not an Illinois Central. Also I don't understand the reference to Canadian National Railway.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted April 30, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)


Highly detailed general information on movable bridges is available in these books:



IC Swing Bridge
Posted April 30, 2013, by chris Lynch (sirpoet73 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I have always been a fan of this bridge since i can remember. I always wondered how did this thing actually work? i know there are sets of wheels to make them turn but, how was it made to turn? was there a person on each side in a box and they would press a button and it would start to turn? if so, how did each of them talk to each to tell them to turn the bridge if needed be? Now since this bridge is no longer working what happens if the open side needs to close how would they go about doing that? Also, I heard from many people that this bridge was struck by lighting many years ago. Finally if it is possible where can i find specs on this bridge meaning, how it was actually moved was it by wires, steam, moved using a hand crank. and could you direct me to a site that has more information on this type of bridge? I would greatly be thankful oh and one last thing, these tracks on the bridge where do they lead to? starting from Omaha to Council bluffs Iowa.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted May 9, 2011, by Mark D. Budka (budkavomaze [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Hi! If any of you would like, I have written the history of this bridge. It is part of a large manuscript dealing with the Omaha District of the Illinois Central. I have a BA in History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and am also a member of the Illinois Central Historical Society. The IC Archives at the Newberry Library in CHicago are a great resource. Also two article is Railway Gazette appeared in 1902 and 1903 I believe. You can write me at

Mark D. Budka 1950 Washington Street #2, Lincoln, Nebraska 68502. This was a very famous bridge from 1893 to 1908. It was a crown jewel in JAL Waddel's crown of bridges.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted March 16, 2011, by ang

my dad recently passed and has worked on the ic bridge for 33 yrs

IC Swing Bridge
Posted February 22, 2011, by Ben (beuford1982 [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Is there much information out there on this bridge? I work near the bridge and its railine at the Waterworks in Council Bluffs. It's my understanding that the treatment chemicals were shipped by rail to the water plant on a spur off of the tracks that lead to this bridge. Does anyone know when use of the bridge ended? Did it have two sets of track accross it at one time? Are there any plans for the future of the bridge?



IC Swing Bridge
Posted January 25, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Craig has a good point......would be worth trying!

IC Swing Bridge
Posted January 25, 2011, by Craig Philpott (cphilpott [at] puc [dot] edu)

Chandra, here is my opinion, if you go to the public info in the HAER database, is it possible you could find an appropriate bridge for your project that has the public info you need, rather then the other way around.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted January 25, 2011, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)


From all that I have seen personally, getting any specific information or Railroad structures is a tall order, as the RR companies are not public domain. Perhaps one of our railroad enthusiasts (James and Ed come to mind), or Nathan might be able to shed some light on it.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted January 25, 2011, by Chandra (chandravadi [at] yahoo [dot] com)


I am a design student in Chicago, and I'm working on an architecture project involving unused railroad bridges in the United States. This is a purely hypothetical design project, however I still need the bridge's dimensions in order to do well. Does anyone know where I could get this information on this or other unused bridges. Even just an overall height and width would be a great help. It would be amazing to get a look at the original plans, but that may be too tall an order. Thank you in advance for any leads or information you might have.

IC Swing Bridge
Posted February 13, 2010, by Mark D. Budka (icomaha [at] aim [dot] com)

The Iowa swing span of the East Omaha Bridge was built in 1893. It is of wraught iron. The Nebraska swing span was built in 1904. This span is of steel.

The original owner was the Omaha Bridge & Terminal Railway Company. The IC first had rights over the bridge from 18 Dec 1899. IC gained controlling interest in 1902. IC took complete control of OB&T on 3 July 1903.