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Scenic River Road Bridge

Iowa Bridge Number 348950

Scenic River Road Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth and Rick McOmber

Bridge Documented: June 30, 2009 and August 9, 2013

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Key Facts

Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Scenic River Road Over Unnamed Creek
Rural: Winneshiek County, Iowa: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
By Builder/Contractor: R.D. Wheaton Bridge Company of Chicago, Illinois

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
32 Feet (9.8 Meters)
Structure Length
33 Feet (10.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
15.4 Feet (4.69 Meters)
1 Main 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

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.

The builder of the Scenic River Road Bridge is not known for certain, but it is assumed to be built by the R.D. Wheaton Bridge Company of Chicago, Illinois, because the Happy Hollow Road Bridge, which has the same design, particularly in terms of the connection layout, was also assumed by the Historic Bridge Inventory to be built by this company. Noteworthy for its excellent historic integrity due to a lack of alteration, the Scenic River Road 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 truss itself remains in fair condition, although the trusses have suffered from impact damage and are bent in a couple areas. Pole railing remain on the bridge.

The National Bridge Inventory lists a 1946 construction date for this bridge, which is obviously incorrect. It may suggest that the bridge was relocated from an unknown location to this site at that date. Given the relatively low cost to erect a new small scale bridge, it seems unusual that a Kingpost truss bridge would be relocated in the 1940s. If this bridge really was relocated, perhaps it was a result of the steel shortage caused by World War II. If this is the case, this would increase the historic significance of 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 Scenic River Road Bridge is no exception. Its impact damage to the trusses is not a barrier to preservation.


Photo Galleries and Videos: Scenic River Road Bridge

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