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Happy Hollow Road Bridge

10 Mile Creek Bridge / Iowa Bridge Number 347800

Happy Hollow Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 30, 2009

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Happy Hollow Road Over 10 Mile Creek
Rural: Winneshiek County, Iowa: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1895 By Builder/Contractor: R. D. Wheaton Bridge Company of Chicago, Illinois
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
35.0 Feet (10.7 Meters)
Structure Length
36.0 Feet (11 Meters)
Roadway Width
16 Feet (4.88 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

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

This bridge is an example of one of the rarest truss bridge types in the country, the Kingpost truss bridge, despite the fact that Winneshiek County happens to have three known examples, with one in private ownership. The Kingpost truss bridge is the simplest possible truss form, always consisting of only two panels, two endposts, no top chord, and a single vertical member, resulting in a triangular-shaped truss.

The Kingpost is a bridge type that was once a common bridge type used for short crossings but is today extremely rare due to attrition. Extremely few examples of this bridge type remain because small bridges are less expensive to replace and thus many have been lost, and also because the use of kingposts died out quickly as the truss bridge era progressed in the late 19th and early 20th century because the iron/steel mills were soon able to easily and inexpensively roll beams large enough to easily span the 30-40 foot distances as a stringer/multi-beam bridge. Due to their design, Kingpost truss bridges were only suitable for these small spans.

Noteworthy for its excellent historic integrity due to a lack of alteration, the Happy Hollow Bridge features a riveted connection at the top of the vertical member, with pinned connections at the bottom chord, making the bridge further noteworthy as a truss bridge displaying multiple types of connections. The bridge was closed in 2008 due to floods which damaged the abutments. The truss itself remains in decent condition. Original railings are missing from the bridge, and in fact there are currently no railings of any kind on the bridge.

All surviving Kingpost truss bridges in the country should be preserved without question, because not only are they rare, their small size means that restoration is inexpensive, simple, and if needed the bridge can be relocated with very little effort. The Happy Hollow Road Bridge is no exception, and indeed in Summer 2010, this bridge will be relocated to the Decorah loop bike trail south of Decorah.

Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

This short-span crossing of Ten Mile Creek is located some five miles northwest of Decorah in central Winneshiek County. County records do not refer specifically to this kingpost pony truss, but it appears to have been built circa 1895, probably by the R.D. Wheaton Bridge Company of Chicago, which supplied several kingpost trusses to the county at that time. Consisting of a kingpost pony truss with rigid-connected upper chords and pinned lowers, the structure is supported by stone abutments. Since its completion, the Ten Mile Creek Bridge has continued to carry intermittent traffic in its picturesque setting, while retaining an exceptional degree of structural integrity.

With its roots extending to the Middle Ages, the kingpost pony truss was the most rudimentary truss type. Numerous kingposts were built on Iowa's early roads in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, executed first as timber/iron combination structures and later in all-metal configurations. The Kingpost as a structural type was generally limited to relatively short-span applications, however, and as steel beam bridges received widespread acceptance after the turn of the century, erection of kingpost trusses declined rapidly. This bridge in Winneshiek County is a well-preserved example of this mainstay structural type [adapted from Crow-Dolby and Fraser 1992].

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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Maps and Links: Happy Hollow Road Bridge

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2021 National Bridge Inventory: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

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