Bridge to Nowhere
In Iowa, United States
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You may wonder why this bridge is positioned next to the Heritage Trail spanning no ravine or body of water. Actually it has been spared from the scrap pile because it is only 1 of 6 iron bridges remaining west of the Mississippi river. In addition to its unique material and design, it also has an interesting history.
Between 1840 and 1880, several thousand iron bridges were built in America. Most of these were in the 1860s due to the rapid expansion to the West, increased railroad line building, and the economic boom after the Civil War. Before then, bridges were typically stone and wood structures. At the time, steel was much too expensive to use for building large structures. Constructing bridges made of the lower strength iron material posed significant design challenges.
Only 71 iron bridges survive today making them the rarest form of bridge construction. Most of these bridges had been destroyed and replaced with steel when increased weight loading was required and the cost of steel decreased in the 1880s.
This particular iron bridge started its life in 1872 as 1 of 7 sections of a new approach added to the 1868-built Dubuque-to-Dunleith (now East Dubuque) railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi River. (Click here or here to see early images.) This bridge was the 5th (and at the time, the most important) railroad bridge crossing the river, and only 3 of these were made entirely of metal. The sections for the approach were designed and fabricated by Andrew Carnegie’s Keystone Bridge Company for the Illinois Central Railroad at a price of $6,375 each.
In 1890, the Dubuque-Dunleith railroad bridge was replaced with a new stronger steel bridge. Shortly after, this 93-foot-long, 23-ton section was purchased for only $750 and relocated to span the nearby Cloie Branch of the Little Maquoketa River as a road traffic bridge. It was used there until 1992 when it was repositioned here and a new modern bridge was constructed in its place.
The cache: This cache is a small Lock & Lock type container with a logbook, pencil, and a few starting trade items. Please sign the log, trade fairly, and return the container to its original location and state of concealment for others’ enjoyment.
(No hints available.)
Last Updated: on 10/30/2015 12:53:26 PM Pacific Daylight Time (7:53 PM GMT)
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum