IAIS Ralston Creek Bridge

Concrete Arch Bridge over Ralston Creek
Iowa City, Johnson County, Iowa

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Name IAIS Ralston Creek Bridge
Built By Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Iowa Interstate Railroad
Length 62 Feet Total, 31 Foot Spans
Width 2 Tracks, 1 in Use
Height Above Ground 30 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Concrete Arch
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1901
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
IAIS Bridge Number 2368
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date August 2013 and January 2018
In 1852, the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad began construction of a 40 mile route from Chicago to the nearby city of Joliet.
With the first segment completed, the railroad continued constructing another 119 miles of track to Geneseo. By 1854, the remaining portions of track were constructed into Rock Island, Illinois; located on the Mississippi River.

The first bridge across the Mississippi River would be built connecting Davenport to Rock Island in 1856. After a fire and collapse later that year, the bridge was rebuilt and would begin carrying traffic into Iowa.
Later in 1856, the Mississippi and Missouri Railroad would begin construction on a pair of main lines in Iowa. One route went towards Missouri, while the other continued on the straight west trajectory.
The first 55 miles on the western mainline saw the connection of Davenport and Iowa City by the end of 1856. Another 31 miles to Marengo would be completed by the end of 1862.

These two railroads would become part of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad in 1866. The Rock Island later saw the completion of the route to Nebraska.

As traffic continued to build on the line, it was continuously upgraded. The route through Illinois was double tracked in the 1890s, and the route to Iowa City was double tracked by 1900.
However, this double track proved unnecessary and was removed in the 1930s. Because of the Rock Island Railroads poor management, the railroad oftentimes found itself in financial trouble; despite having a solid core of routes.
Between World War II and 1980, the railroad saw even harder economic downturns. Failed mergers and poor money management led to the inevitable downfall of the railroad.
By 1980, the railroad was officially bankrupt for the final time. Trustees saw the liquidation of the railroad, which sold off and abandoned many lines.

However, as this was the core main line of the Rock Island, it saw a positive future. After an earlier railroad failed in the early 1980s, the Iowa Interstate Railroad was formed in late 1984 to operate over track between Ottawa, Illinois and Omaha, Nebraska.
Since its original forming, the IAIS has turned a once dead mainline into a thriving alternative to Interstate 80. Today, this segment is known as the 1st Subdivision.

One of the weirder bridges in Iowa City is this massive two span concrete crosses Ralston Creek.
Built in 1901, the arch has a weird appearance. The massive center pier provides a unique appearance to this bridge.
Otherwise, the bridge has little notable differences from other arches. The build date of 1901 is assumed, from when the Rock Island double tracked this line. It also may be possible this is an encased stone arch bridge.
Overall, this bridge remains in good condition.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the unique design and older age.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Based on widening of route
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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