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Eldorado Bridge

Iowa Bridge Number 152920

Eldorado Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 30, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
State Street Over Turkey River
Eldorado: Fayette County, Iowa: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1899 By Builder/Contractor: J. G. Ratcliff of Waukon, Iowa

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
130 Feet (39.62 Meters)
Structure Length
130 Feet (39.62 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.8 Feet (4.82 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)

Bridge Documentation

This bridge is an example of an uncommon truss type, the Camelback truss. The bridge is otherwise traditionally composed and aside from the loss of original railings, appears unaltered and with good historic integrity. Flooding has ripped added cable railings off parts of the bridge. The bridge has been closed to all traffic. The bridge contains seven panels, and is seated on stone abutments that have been supplemented with concrete. Floorbeams are rolled i-beams, and the truss includes built-up beams which are v-laced, and eyebars that are loop-forged.

Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

Located in Eldorado, this medium-span truss carries an unpaved county road over the Turkey River;. Known locally as the Eldorado Bridge, the structure consists of a single pin-connected Camelback through truss, supported by stone abutments. The Eldorado Bridge was constructed by contractor J.G. Ratcliff of Waukon, Iowa, under contract with the Fayette County Board of Supervisors. Completed in March 1899, it has functioned in place since, in essentially unaltered condition.

Straight-chorded Pratt through trusses were used extensively throughout Iowa for medium-span crossings in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. For longer crossings after the turn of the century, however, bridge companies could develop greater efficiency with polygonal-chorded Pratt variants--primarily Parker, Pennsylvania and Camelback trusses. With its distinctive five-faceted upper chords, the Camelback configuration was disdained by some engineers (including the venerable J.A.L. Waddell, who called it "uncompromisingly ugly") for its tendency under certain conditions to reverse compressive and tensile forces acting on their individual members. As a result, Camelback trusses have never received widespread acceptance. Relatively few were ever built on Iowa's roads, and only a handful has been identified as extant by the bridge inventory. The Eldorado Bridge is this technologically significant as a well-preserved example of this uncommon structural type [adapted from Fraser 1992].

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes

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Photos and Videos: Eldorado Bridge

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