Washington Railroad Bridge

Deck Truss Bridge over County G38
Washington, Washington County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Washington Railroad Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railway
Length 300 Feet Total, 120 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 13 Feet
Type Warren Deck Truss, Deck Girder and Concrete Arch
Date Built 1903
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
In 1882, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway began building a line from Savanna, Illinois to Kansas City.

The line in Iowa was completed at a majority by 1885. The route crossed the Mississippi River from Savanna to Sabula, Iowa on a large swing bridge between the two towns.

The line quickly turned south, paralleled the Mississippi River through Clinton, Davenport and Muscatine. Then the line turned southwest, crossing the Cedar and Iowa rivers near Conesville before arriving in Washington, where it crossed a Rock Island line towards Des Moines.

From here, it continued southwest, crossing the Skunk River before arriving in Ottumwa, where it would cross the Des Moines River, and a pair of rail lines.
Continuing on the same southwest trajectory, the line would cross a Rock Island line near Moravia. The line became increasingly hilly and curvy as it approached the Missouri border near Sewal.

The CM&StP became the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific in 1912 with a pacific extension building steam.

The line was considered a mainline, connecting to Kansas City. Little changes were ever seen on it, although the major one was in 1981, the Milwaukee Road purchased the former Rock Island alignment between Muscatine and Washington and scrapped their own. The Rock Island had fallen the year before.

In 1985, the Milwaukee Road was purchased by Soo Line, who operated the line until 1997 when they sold it to I&M Rail Link. The line then changed hands again in 2002 when Iowa, Chicago & Eastern purchased it, and IC&E was purchased by Canadian Pacific along with Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern in 2008.
Canadian Pacific currently operates this line, although they have continued to explore potential buyers.

This rare Warren deck truss carries a railroad track over an unpaved road and the west fork of Crooked Creek in eastern Franklin Township. The bridge is built on a skew, being oriented on a northeast-southwest line while crossing an east-west road. The year 1903 is incised in one of the concrete piers, and presumably this date represents the bridge's erection date. The crossing was probably independently designed and built by the railroad, therefore no county records exist for the truss. Warren deck trusses are rare for highway bridges, although more common for railroad structures. Prior to 1940, numerous through and pony trusses were built on road and highways throughout Iowa. Deck trusses--in which the roadway is carried by the truss's upper chords--were built far less often, owing to the relatively flat nature of Iowa's waterways. "Only a few locations in the state will permit the use of this type of construction," the state highway commission stated in 1915. "This type of construction requires considerable head room about high water in order to allow its use." This uncommon truss type has suffered statewide attrition, until less than ten deck trusses are known to remain in Iowa. The CM&StP Railroad Underpass is distinguished as the oldest remaining deck truss in Iowa. It retains a high degree of both structural and historical integrity and thus is an important transportation-related resources [adapted from Zibell, Hess and Fraser 1992].

This bridge is not the oldest railroad deck truss in Iowa, but is the oldest highway related. The bridge is a visually unique and structurally interesting bridge, representing an early design by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad.

Today, county G38 has recieved a concrete pavement, and the old pony truss is long gone. But this bridge is still landmark to east central Iowa.
On the east side, it has two concrete arch spans, and a deck girder before the 120' 5 panel riveted warren deck truss. On the other side, it contains two deck girders and a concrete arch.

With this, the substructures are all concrete. The photo above is an overview.

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