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Vine Street Bridge

Iowa Bridge Number 12570

Vine Street Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 16, 2021

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Vine Street Over Otter Creek
Location
West Union: Fayette County, Iowa: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1910 By Builder/Contractor: N.M. Stark and Company of Des Moines, Iowa and Engineer/Design: Daniel Luten
Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
66.0 Feet (20.1 Meters)
Structure Length
66.0 Feet (20.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
40 Feet (12.19 Meters)
Spans
1 Main Span(s)
Inventory Number
12570

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is a very old and unaltered example of an urban style Luten arch bridge with the balustrade railings used for urban applications of the Luten patented arch design. N.M. Stark and Company of Des Moines, Iowa was one of many companies across the country authorized to build the patented Luten arch bridges.

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

View National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form For This Bridge

Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory

Discussion of Bridge

In 1910 the Fayette County Board of Supervisors received an urgent citizens' petition, asking for a permanent bridge to carry Vine Street in West Union over Otter Creek. The petitioners requested a 66-foot-wide structured to match the adjacent street width, and they concluded by saying, "This is a dangerous place, being located between two lines of Railroad track close together." In late winter of 1910 the supervisors solicited competitive bids to build the Vine Street Bridge. A contract was awarded that March to N.M. Stark and Company of Des Moines for $8,475. The award to Stark was hardly surprising. From about the turn of the century until 1913, Stark built virtually all of the county's concrete and steel bridges, holding a virtual monopoly on Fayette County bridge construction and even providing the designs for most of the structures. The design that Stark used for the concrete arches was the patented elliptical arch of Indianapolis engineer Daniel Luten. Stark was a licensee for Luten, building Luten arches under a patent royalty agreement. The Vine Street Bridge was built by Stark that year. Since its completion, the structure has carried vehicular traffic, in unaltered condition.

N.M. Stark was vigorous in his promotion of concrete for bridge construction in the early 20th century. Touting the Luten arch as an economical alternative to the steel truss, he was the state's most prolific concrete bridge builder during this time. This was due in large part to counties such as Fayette, Story and Marshall, which built numerous bridges under essentially non-competitive contracts with Stark in the years around 1910. But the Iowa State Highway Commission regarded Stark --with his patented bridges and monopolistic county contracts--as an exemplar of the worst of bridge contracting in the state. Beginning in 1913, the highway commission aggressively attacked Stark and the Luten patent, eventually getting the patent declared non-valid in court and getting Stark indicted for bid-rigging. As a result, Stark's business plummeted, and one of Iowa's most successful bridge builders soon faded into obscurity by the early 1920s. The Vine Street Bridge is a typically configured example of this widespread and controversial structural type. And with its 66-foot span, the Vine Street Bridge is distinguished as one of the longest-span Luten arches in Iowa [adapted from Fraser 1992].

Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes


This bridge is tagged with the following special condition(s): Luten

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Maps and Links: Vine Street Bridge

Coordinates (Latitude, Longitude):

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Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

Bridgehunter.com: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 0.5 miles (0.8 kilometers) of this bridge.

HistoricBridges.org Bridge Browser: View listed bridges within 10 miles (16 kilometers) of this bridge.

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

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