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Berkheimer Bridge

Iowa Bridge Number 184870

Berkheimer Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 1, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
215th Street Over West Fork Des Moines River
Rural: Humboldt County, Iowa: United States
Structure Type
Metal 10 Panel Pin-Connected Pennsylvania Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Stringer (Multi-Beam), Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1899 By Builder/Contractor: Clinton Bridge and Iron Works of Clinton, Iowa

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
170 Feet (51.8 Meters)
Structure Length
253 Feet (77.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.1 Feet (4.6 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 6 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Archived National Bridge Inventory Report - Has Additional Details and Evaluation

Berkheimer Bridge, named after the person who petitioned for the bridge's construction, is a rare example of a highway pin-connected truss bridge displaying the Pennsylvania truss configuration. The bridge contains the main truss span and a series of approach spans. The Pennsylvania truss configuration is an uncommon truss configuration that is among the most visually and geometrically complex of the truss configurations, and as a result bridges displaying the configuration usually offer a lot of detail for the eye to enjoy. Iowa has very few bridges of this type, and as such the preservation of each surviving example is essential. In addition, the Berkheimer Bridge's main Pennsylvania truss span retains a high degree of historic integrity, with very few alterations. The alterations present on this bridge are limited to the approach spans and substructure which appear to have been extensively altered. Most noteworthy, the piers for the main span appear to be replaced. Because the historic significance of the bridge is derived from the main truss span alone, any alterations to these areas do not diminish the historic significance of the bridge in any way. The Pennsylvania truss span remains a distinguished and important span in the state of Iowa.

During the time of documentation, this bridge had been closed to traffic. The bridge has been closed and subsequently rehabilitated in the past. Hopefully this trend continues. If the bridge cannot continue to serve vehicular traffic in its current location it should be preserved either in its current location or a new location for non-motorized use.

Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

According to county records, Mark Berkhimer and others petitioned the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors for a bridge at this site in 1892, but the petition was not granted. In 1898 a report recommending a bridge at this site was approved. Bids for construction of the bridge were received on June 6, 1899, with eight companies submitting proposals. Most of the bidders offered more than one design. The contract was awarded to the Clinton Bridge and Iron Works for $2,836 for their Plan #4, which called for a 170-foot truss with two 32-foot approaches. Apparently the bridge was finished later in the year. The Berkhimer Bridge is one of six through-truss bridges in the county and the only one with the Pennsylvania design. Pennsylvania through trusses are relatively rare in the state, and this particular bridge retains very good design integrity [adapted from Johnson 1992].

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


Photo Galleries and Videos: Berkheimer Bridge

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