Interurban Trail Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Des Moines River
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Interurban Trail Bridge
Built By Des Moines & Central Iowa Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By City of Des Moines
Length 615 Feet Total, 127 Foot Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Steel Caisson
Date Built 1905, Rebuilt 2012
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date July 2013 and May 2013
In 1899, the Inter-Urban Railway was constructed to serve Des Moines. This route was built along the north side of Des Moines.
A second line was built from Des Moines to Colfax in 1902. This new 23 mile route followed city streets and the Rock Island Railroad.
Another line, the Perry Route was built in 1906. Extending north out of Des Moines, the route featured two lines; one to Perry and one to Woodward.

By 1922, the IUR was reorganized as the Des Moines & Central Iowa Railway. Near the end of the decade, the route suffered significantly due to the depression.
The first passenger route was discontinued in 1941. Routes to Colfax and Woodward were reduced to freight only.

In 1946, the Woodward and Colfax Branches were abandoned.
By 1948, the route from Granger to Perry was abandoned. The last of the route was discontinued in 1954.

Local trackage around Des Moines was used for freight traffic by the DM&CI until 1981, when it was absorbed by the Chicago & North Western.
After this purchase, most of the lines were abandoned. The remaining routes became part of Union Pacific in 1995, when C&NW was purchased.

Today, portions of the route near Des Moines are trails, while others are operated by Union Pacific.

This large truss bridge crosses the Des Moines River between Des Moines and Urbandale.
As part of the highly successful Interurban Trail, the bridge is in similar to condition to when it was built for the railroad.
The four main spans of the bridge are Pratt Through Trusses with 7 panels and pinned connections. Three of these spans (Spans #1-#3 from west) are identical, with a decorative type portal bracing. However, the fourth/eastern span has a different portal bracing. In addition, the eastern span has different vertical members.
It is possible that this is the result of buying four random spans to save costs when building the bridge in 1905. The trusses appear to date to the late 1880s or early 1890s. In addition, the spans feature some unique features, such as double pinned connections, commonly seen on bridges older than 1895.
Resting on steel cylinder substructures, the bridge was once approached by trestle spans. These were replaced by modern beam spans designed for the trail in 2012.
If this bridge is indeed relocated, it is unknown where it may have come from, or what railroad would've sold it.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique design of these trusses. Further research will be conducted on this bridge.
Fortunately, it appears that the bridge will be around for generations to come. Serving one of the most popular bike trails in the area, the bridge is highly visible in the community.
The photo above is an overview. The photo below is a view of bracings on Span #4. The bridge can be accessed from the trail it carries.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Granger High Bridge
Downstream Birdland Park Railroad Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series

Detail Photos


Source Type


Build Date Historical plaque

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