Fort Dodge High Bridge

High Deck Truss Bridge over Fort Dodge, Iowa
Fort Dodge, Webster County, Iowa

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

Name Fort Dodge High Bridge
Built By Chicago Great Western Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 2,719 Feet (219' Largest Span)
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 182 Feet to Normal Water Level
Type Baltimore Deck Truss with Deck Plate Girder and Steel Trestle
Date Built Opened 1902
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Week (Estimated)
Current Status In Use

The Chicago Great Western Railway, a thriving little railroad of the upper midwest already had a set of tracks running from St. Paul, Minnesota to Manley, Iowa.

Around 1901, the CGW wanted to extend these tracks south and west to Omaha, Nebraska. To do this, they built to Mason City, a distance of 12 miles in 1901. The new route was to be built by the Mason City & Fort Dodge Railway.

Between 1901 and 1903, they built towards Omaha, going through major cities such as Fort Dodge.

The line to Omaha was completed November 1903, and put into service the first day of 1904.

One of the landmarks of this line was the massive half-mile long bridge over the Des Moines River in downtown Fort Dodge.

The CGW became ill fated, becoming part of the Chicago & Northwestern in 1968, which in turn became part of the Union Pacific in 1995.

Since then, major abandondmends have occured. The line is completely gone from the Twin Cities to Manley, and in addition from Mason City south to Belmond.

The line continues to suffer, competing with the Jewell Sub, the Boone and Clinton Subs other local lines for service.

Fort Dodge, located in central Iowa on the Des Moines River, about 50 miles north of Des Moines is a city of nearly 30,000 people. The city is situated in a giant river valley, with railroads past and present snaking through it.
The Fort Dodge High Bridge was built for the new Mason City & Fort Dodge Railway to make sure grades coming out of the valley never became an issue.
Towering an astonishing 182 feet above the river, and a neighborhood, this landmark bridge is one of only a few high bridges in Iowa.
This bridge has a cousin, about 25 miles downstream between Boone and Ogden on the Union Pacific Mainline. That bridge, called the Kate Shelley High Bridge seems to recieve more attention. Here is a chart comparing the high bridges around the Des Moines River Valley in Central Iowa.

Name Fort Dodge High Bridge Bass Point High Bridge Old Kate Shelley High Bridge New Kate Shelley High Bridge
Builder Chicago Great Western Railway Fort Dodge, Des Moines & Southern Interurban Railway Chicago & Northwestern Railway Union Pacific Railroad
Current Owner Union Pacific Railroad Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad Union Pacific Railroad Union Pacific Railroad
Length 2,719 Feet (219' Main Spans) 781 Feet (82' Largest Span) 2,685 Feet (300' Main Span) 2,813 Feet (105' Largest Span)
Width 1 Track 1 Track 2 Tracks 2 Tracks
Height Above Ground 182 Feet From River 157 Feet From Water 185 Feet From River 190 Feet From River
Type Baltimore Deck Truss Spans with Deck Plate Girder Approaches Deck Plate Girder supported by High Steel Trestle Baltimore Deck Truss Span with Deck Plate Girder Approaches Deck Plate Girder Spans on Concrete Towers
Date Built Opened 1902 Opened 1913 Construction began 1899, opened 1901 Construction began 2006, opened August 20th, 2009
Traffic Count Less than 1 Train/Day 4 Trains/Day (Peak) 0 Trains/Day (Closed to Traffic) 75 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status Open to Traffic Open to Traffic Closed, bypassed by new bridge Open to Traffic

The old Kate Shelley Bridge recieves more fame than this bridge, but this bridge is bigger, has more main spans and is longer.
This bridge consists of the following design.

11 Spans Deck Plate Girder supported on steel towers
4-219' Pinned Baltimore Deck truss spans
19 Spans Deck Plate Girder supported on steel towers

The bridge crosses a Canadian National railyard, a neighborhood, the river and another road.
This bridge should be on the NRHP.
The photo above is looking from the west bank.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges

Upstream CN Des Moines River Bridge
Downstream M&StL Des Moines River Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series, for the East Approach and Detail Photos
East Approach Pictures

Detail Pictures

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LAST UPDATED: 08/04/15
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