CN Des Moines River Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over Des Moines River
Fort Dodge, Webster County, Iowa

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Name CN Des Moines River Bridge
Built By Illinois Central Railroad
Contractor (1965 Spans) Bethlehem Steel Company of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 415 Feet Total, 100 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1965 and 1999
Traffic Count 4 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
IC Bridge Number 376.0
Significance Minimal Significance
Documentation Date April 2017
In 1866, the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad began expanding their existing mainline west, from Cedar Falls to Iowa Falls.
This route connected to Dubuque Chicago on the east, making it an important route. In 1867, Illinois Central began to lease the D&SC.

In 1869, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad continued construction west, reaching Sioux City by the end of 1870.
This new construction was in response to a fear by the directors of the D&SC that the Illinois Central would lose interest in the company. Reaching Sioux City promised a large volume of traffic into Chicago.
The route helped develop several major Iowa towns, including Iowa Falls, Fort Dodge and Cherokee.

In 1888, the IF&SC was merged into the D&SC. By 1900, new connections would be open to Omaha, Sioux Falls and Onawa.

Relatively uncommon in the modern world of railroading, the Illinois Central did not fully consume the D&SC until 1946. Despite this, virtually every project was Illinois Central funded until then.
Immediately after this, the IC went to work rebuilding numerous older truss bridges along the line. This route served as the western mainline for the Illinois Central, which had grown to be considerable in size.
In 1972, the IC merged with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio Railroad to form the Illinois Central Gulf. The ICG dissolved back into the Illinois Central in 1988.

The entire western main line and associated branch lines of the IC were sold to a railroad known as the Chicago Central and Pacific Railroad in 1985.
Just 11 years later, the route would again be purchased by Illinois Central. By 1999, the Illinois Central was purchased by Canadian National.
In 2017, Canadian National operates the Cedar Falls-Fort Dodge segment of this line as the Waterloo Subdivision.

This simple deck girder bridge crosses the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge.
The previous bridge here had a pair of 1891 Parker Through Trusses. The western of these trusses was replaced in 1965, likely due to flooding issues.
As a replacement, the truss would be removed and two new deck girders installed. A concrete pier would be added between the stone.
In 1999, the process was repeated for the second truss. Presently, the bridge features four deck girder spans, set onto a combination of concrete and stone substructures.
A common design, spans like this are common all across the country.
Currently, the bridge remains active as part of the Canadian National mainline.

The author has ranked this bridge as being minimally significant, due to the common design and new age.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from a nearby road.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges
Upstream (East Fork) Gotch Park Trail Bridge
Upstream (West Fork) Dakota City Rail Bridge
Downstream Fort Dodge High Bridge


Source Type


Build Date 1973 Illinois Central Track Profile
Contractor Bethlehem Steel Company plaque
Build Date 1999 Aerial Imagery
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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