Briggs Woods Rail Bridge

Double Intersection Warren Deck Truss Bridge over Boone River
Webster City, Hamilton County, Iowa

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Name Briggs Woods Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago & North Western Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 238 Feet Total, 128 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Double Intersection Warren Deck Truss and Deck Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1901, Approaches Added 1909
Traffic Count 4 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 33.40
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date April 2014
In 1874 the Des Moines and Minneapolis Railway constructed a line from Des Moines to Story City, in central Iowa. It was a narrow guage railroad, later standard in 1880.

The line was continued north by the Toledo & Northwestern Railway in late 1879, and was completed to Blue Earth, Minnesota by 1883. It was a standard gauge line. The entire line came into the Chicago North Western Railway system by 1884. The C&NW owned a large amount of track around Iowa at the time.
The line was a critical C&NW route to connect to the Twin Cities.
Starting from Des Moines, the line would start in downtown, and head north towards Ankeny.
The line would cross the east/west Milwaukee Road mainline at Slater, It would go through Kelley, crossing the Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern before arriving in Ames.
In Ames, it would cross Squaw Creek, and the busy C&NW east/west mainline.
Near Story City, it had to cross a high trestle over Keigly Creek, which was later filled and replaced with a stone bridge.
The line continued through Randall, crossed an east/west C&NW branch line in Jewell, and came into Webster City after crossing the Boone River.
In Webster City, it crossed the Illinois Central line again, and left town crossing the Boone River again.
Continuing north, the route went through Woolstock, and in Eagle Grove crossed a Chicago Great Western Line, and had a CNW line towards Humboldt break off.
It crossed another CGW line in Goldfield, and continued through Renwick and Lu Verne.
At Algona, it crossed over another Milwaukee Road main, and continued through Burt and Bancroft before crossing a Rock Island line near Lakota.

It crossed into Minnesota at Elmore, and joined with another CNW line at Blue Earth.

Several sections were abandoned over time. This included:

Ledyard to Blue Earth in 1968, Ledyard to Bancroft in 1978, Burt to Bancroft in 1985, and Ankeny to Ames in 1985.

The C&NW merged into Union Pacific in 1995. Since this merger, the Ankeny to Des Moines route has been abandoned and will be reused a trail.
The remaining segment, from Burt to Ames is known as the Jewell Subdivision.

Located in Briggs Woods State Park near Webster City is this deck truss, crossing the Boone River.
Built in 1901 to replace a previous structure, the bridge features a Double Intersection Warren Deck Truss, a design rather unusual on railroads. The bridge was further altered in 1909, when the deck girder approaches were added.
While Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois undoubtedly have a higher concentration of this design as compared to surrounding states, the bridge must still be considered unique on a broad level.
The structure features riveted connections, deck plate girder approaches and stone substructures. This stone work likely dates to 1901, as the previous bridge was likely wooden.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the unique design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from Briggs Woods State Park.

Boone River Railroad Bridges
Upstream CN Boone River Bridge
Downstream Confluence With Des Moines River


Source Type


Build Date Chicago & North Western Railway Historical Society Archives
Contractor Missing American Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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