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Dietzenbach Bottom Bridge

Mill Race Bridge

Dietzenbach Bottom Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 30, 2009

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Pheasant Road (Old Alignment) Over Turkey River
Rural: Fayette County, Iowa: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1890 By Builder/Contractor: Chicago Bridge and Iron Works of Chicago, Illinois
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
121.0 Feet (36.9 Meters)
Structure Length
121.0 Feet (36.9 Meters)
Roadway Width
16.1 Feet (4.91 Meters)
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

View Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) Documentation For This Bridge

HAER Data Pages, PDF

View A Memoir of Horace E. Horton of Chicago Bridge and Iron Company

This bridge was originally located over Otter Creek in the town of Elgin, Iowa. It was relocated to its current location in 1926. As a result, this bridge is sometimes called the Old Elgin Creamery Bridge, in addition to the above listed names.

The bridge is an extremely rare example of a pin-connected Warren truss bridge. The Pratt was the far more common truss configuration used in trapezoidal truss bridges with pinned connections. The Warren only took off as a popular truss form when riveted connections became common in the early 20th century.

This bridge has been bypassed by a modern bridge, and the historic bridge was left abandoned for its aesthetic and historic value. While floods have washed away the soil around the abutments, the truss itself remains with good historic and structural integrity.

The Chicago Bridge and Iron Company was organized by a number of people including Horace E. Horton. He was president of the company in 1897 when he bought the entire company out and reorganized it as the Chicago Bridge and Iron Works, a company which remains in business today.

Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

This single-span truss crosses the Turkey River at the northern edge of Fayette County, in Section 3 of Auburn Township. Known locally as the Mill Race Bridge, presumably for its proximity to a riverside mill, the structure is configured as a six-panel Warren truss with pinned connections. The existing concrete abutments are evidently replacements of an earlier substructure. Although county records are somewhat sketchy, the Mill Race Bridge appears to have been erected n 1890. In January of that year the county board of supervisors received a citizens' petition for a permanent bridge at this location. The petition was referred, along with six others, to a committee of the whole, after which a contract was awarded to build the bridge. Fayette County had dealt almost exclusively with Horace E. Horton, a brilliant civil engineer from Minneapolis, for its wagon bridges in the 1880s. When Horton moved to the Chicago Bridge and Iron Company in the late 1880s, he brought the county with him as a client, and the latter firm was largely responsible for the county's bridges in the 1890s. The Mill Race Bridge was probably fabricated and erected by Chicago B&I for the county in 1890. Other than the subsequent replacement of its substructure, it remains in essentially unaltered condition today.

The Pratt and Warren truss configurations were both developed in the 1840s, but it was the Pratt that received the most widespread use in the late 19th century. The reasons for this probably relate to the versatility of the pin-connected Pratt for different span lengths and its easier erection using timber falseworks. Relatively few pinned Warren trusses were ever built in Iowa and only a handful remains in use today. The Mill Race Bridge is distinguished as a well-preserved example of this uncommon 19th century truss type [adapted from Fraser 1992].

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


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