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Wabash Bridge

Ottumwa Railroad Bridge

Wabash Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: July 2, 2009

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (Rail-Trail) Over Des Moines River
Ottumwa: Wapello County, Iowa: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Metal Through Girder, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Detroit Bridge and Iron Works of Detroit, Michigan

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
770 Feet (234.7 Meters)
Roadway Width
10 Feet (3.05 Meters)
3 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

John Marvig provided additional history: North span was replaced after a 1973 derailment/collapse in 1975. 

This bridge contains three eight panel pin-connected truss spans, and it has a fairly heavy skew. There are several approach spans including a large through plate girder span. The bridge is traditionally composed. The bridge was converted for pedestrian use. The re-decking project is a good example of a community's citizens working on their own to save a bridge. The bridge was slated for demolition until private funds were raised, about $30,000 in total, to re-deck the bridge in 2007 and make it a part of a non-motorized trail system. No grants were used, which is quite impressive. The preservation effort was led by the Wapello County Trails Council.

The only disappointing aspect of the re-decking project is that cyclone fence railings were placed on the bridge, rather than one of the many more attractive and less obstructive railing alternatives available. No work was done to the bridge superstructure as part of this conversion. Otherwise however, the bridge remains an attractive historic landmark that is an asset to the city of Ottumwa providing beauty, function, and heritage.


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