Ottumwa Wabash Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Des Moines River
Ottumwa, Wapello County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Ottumwa Wabash Bridge
Built By Wabash Railroad
Contractor Detroit Bridge & Iron Works of Detroit
Currently Owned By Wapello County
Length 773 Feet Total, 160 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss and Through Girder
Date Built 1888, Girder added 1975
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
In 1881, the Des Moines & St. Louis Railway built a line from the Iowa/Missouri border south of Moulton to Des Moines.

This line twisted and turned as it went up the state. It served as an important connection to Missouri for the Minneapolis & St. Louis railway company.

The line crossed the Des Moines River near Red Rock and continued north, coming into Des Moines via Pleasant Hill.

The line was quickly absorbed by the Wabash Railroad.

In addition, a branch line served Ottumwa. This line was built in 1881 and abandoned in 1981.

Much of this line was abandoned throughout the 1950s. The bridge over the Des Moines River was sold to Marion County in 1952.
Today, Norfolk Southern uses the line with BNSF. A bridge was built across the Des Moines River near Runnells in 1968.

This bridge is the second Wabash Bridge over the Des Moines River. This one is probably more significant than the one upstream.

The bridge is consisted of three through truss spans, a through girder span, and trestle approach on the south side with a single span of I-Beam.

The bridge is supported by stone substructures. The girder span is vintage from 1970. A train derailed and destroyed a fourth truss span.

The other three truss spans are built as pin connected trusses with a lattice type portal bracing, typical of early railroad construction.

The bridge was converted to trail use in 2007 purely by private funds after a plan to demolish it.
Arsonists burned the deck off in 2008. The bridge was loved enough where funds were raised for it to be re-decked.

The bridge has since become a favorite area to watch eagles, as the girder span got a hole cut in it for that purpose.
Today, the bridge is an important asset to Ottumwa, which fames itself as the city of bridges. The photo above is looking from the south bank.

Des Moines River Railroad Bridges

Upstream DM&E Des Moines River Bridge
Downstream Eldon Railroad Bridge

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