Cedar Falls Railroad Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Cedar River
Cedar Falls, Black Hawk County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!

Name Cedar Falls Railroad Bridge
Built By Illinois Central Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Works of Chicago
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 444 Feet Total, 148 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1899
Traffic Count 7 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
CN Bridge Number 282.6
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date September 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 three span Pratt Through Truss crossing the Cedar River in Cedar Falls is a local landmark.
Each pin connected six panel Pratt Through Truss is 148 Feet Long with X Frame Portal Bracing.
All substructures are concrete encased stone. The original stone substructures were likely so deteriorated that they had to be encased.
Miraculously, this bridge survived the flood of 2008, which wiped out the nearby Iowa Northern Bridge in Waterloo; as well as four other railroad bridges.
American Bridge Works appears to have been the main contractor for this project. American Bridge Works did a considerable amount of work for the Illinois Central, but this appears to be one of the last unmodified American Bridge Works truss.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

The author has rated this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the builder and older age of the bridge.
The photo above is looking from the west bank. The bridge can be accessed from nearby roads and trails.

Cedar River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Confluence of Main and West Forks
Downstream Sans Souci Bridge (New)


Source Type


Build Date Illinois Central 1973 track profile
Contractors Missing plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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