This bridge was originally erected on the Military Road to cross the Maquoketa River. The Military Road that this bridge originally served was created some years before the construction of this bridge to provide access to the western frontier of the country. As a surviving remnant from that roadway, the bridge is significant as a structure that likely contributed to the settlement of the western United States. The bridge and roadway was also locally important as a way for farmers to get their goods to market. In 1929 the bridge was relocated to Fremont to cross Buffalo Creek. The bridge was 56 years old at this time. In 1985 the bridge was relocated to its current location in Central Park.
This bridge is one of the largest and most complete examples of a Massillon Bridge Company bowstring featuring the unique designs that the original bridge company founder, Joseph Davenport designed, in particular his unique built-up beams. There are two patents which include his form of built-up beam that is composed of plates with a pipe webbing. It is this pipe webbing that makes the design unique, as well as the Howe truss configuration formed by these pipes contained within the built-up beam. This pipe and plate format was commonly used by the company for built-up top chords on bowstrings, as well as for the composition of a truss girder as seen in the Longman Road Bridge. The design was also used for floorbeams, sway bracing, and portal bracing. The company's use of this built-up beam form seems to have declined and ended in the 1880s in favor of more traditional beams. The Fremont Mill Bridge is one of the most comprehensive examples of the breadth of uses that Massillon Bridge Company found for its built-up pipe/plate beams. These beams are found on the Fremont Mill Bridge in some floorbeams, in the sway bracing, and in the top chord.
Overall, the Fremont Mill Bridge is also an extremely important example of a bowstring truss bridge. With an 1873 construction date it is a very old surviving example of a bowstring truss, and among the earliest examples of the Massillon Bridge Company, of which it is also an excellent representative example because despite the age of the bridge it remains nearly unaltered with remarkable historic integrity.
Among Iowa's most important historic bridges, the Fremont Mill Bridge is nationally significant for its representation of a key period in bridge construction and an early and unaltered representative example of one of the most prolific bridge companies of the period.
Historic American Engineering Record created a large and very informative historical overview and context for Iowa's bridges, and it is offered here by HistoricBridges.org in convenient PDF format for easy printing or offline viewing. The HAER source for the documents composing the PDF is here.View Bowstring Arch Bridges of Iowa, An Online Book By Michael Finn (PDF)
Michael Finn has composed a concise and detailed overview of Iowa's beautiful historic bowstring bridges. It has been made available for free by Iowa Department of Transportation.View Historic American Engineering Record's Structural Analysis of Iron Bowstring Bridges (PDF)
Historic American Engineering Record created a large and very informative structural analysis of how bowstring truss/arch bridges function. Everything from basic discussion of the engineering behind the bridges to advanced mathematical equations are available. The HAER source for the documents composing the PDF is here.
Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
The Fremont Mill bridge now carries a pedestrian
path in Central Park in Jackson Township, seven miles east of Anamosa.
This wrought iron bowstring through arch-truss originally crossed the
Maquoketa River in Monticello. The previous structure at that site was
destroyed by a perilous ice flow in the winter of 1873, necessitating
the erection of the bowstring. Five companies presented sealed
competitive bides to the Jones County Board of Supervisors in the Spring
of 1873. County officials followed the customary method of letting out
two construction contracts, one for the truss itself and one for the
foundations. The contract for the superstructure was awarded to the
Massillon Iron Bridge Company of Massillon, Ohio, which bid $23 per
lineal foot. The second contract for the substructure was let to James
Milne of Scotch Grove, Iowa. The overall contractual deadline for the
bridge's completion was initially June 20, 1873, but it was not until
October of that year that board minutes reported that the structure was
finished. Total cost was $5,428.05, $2,944 of which went to Massillon
for the superstructure. In January 1930, the truss was moved to a site
spanning Buffalo Creek, and then again to its present location in Jones
County's Central Park in July 1936. The well-traveled Fremont Mill
Bridge, with few alterations of note, now only carries pedestrians
visiting the park.
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Reused
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