South Skunk River Trail Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over South Skunk River
Santiago, Polk County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name South Skunk River Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago Great Western Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Polk County
Length 455 Feet Total, 70 Foot Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Built 1928
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date February 2020
A brief history of the Chicago Great Western route to Kansas City:


Located near the whistle stop of Santiago, this large deck girder bridge is the largest on the Chichaqua Valley Trail.
Plaques on the bridge indicate that it was built in 1928. The bridge consists of four large deck girder spans, approached by trestle on either side. The girders are set onto concrete piers.
It is unknown what this bridge replaced. However, the South Skunk River has been heavily channelized at this location, so it is possible the old bridge was a truss or girder at another location.
The bridge also runs at a skew across the river, and the piers are angled to be perpendicular to the river.
While the steel of the bridge appears to be well maintained, the trestle approaches and trail deck of the bridge are in poor condition. The trestle spans were originally ballasted deck, and the trail was paved over this. Unfortunately, the ballast pan has rotted in some spots, causing the deck to begin to sink.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition, with some deterioration noted on the timber components of the bridge.

The author has ranked the bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.

South Skunk River Railroad Bridges
Upstream UP S. Skunk River Bridge (Cambridge)
Downstream IAIS S. Skunk River Bridge


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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