This bridge is a type of bridge patented in 1844, by Thomas and Caleb Pratt. The first Pratt truss bridges were wood designs, but when wrought iron and then steel became more available, the design quickly switched to metal. Metal bridges could handle heavier loads and didn't require frequent repair.
Pratt truss bridges were the most common type of bridge used in the late 1800s and early 1900s, because they were economical to fabricate and simple to assemble. The design used standard-sized components, and trusses could be joined together for wider spans.
Today, the Pratt truss bridge is a vanishing type of structure. Because of its significance to the history of this area, this bridge was refurbished. It reminds us of the importance of railroads to Iowa's development and provides an example of late 1800s bridge design.
The bridge to your left was constructed in 1887 for the Illinois Central Railroad. For nearly 90 years it carried trains across the Little Sioux River.
This 1900 view of the bridge was taken at a time when several trains crossed it each day. Train traffic began declining in the 1950s and the tracks were removed 1979. In the 1990s the east metal span was demolished.
In 2006, the bridge underwent historic rehabilitation. This preserved the bridge and provided a
river crossing for the trail connection to Little Sioux Park. The original west steel span and stone piers remain. The wooden trestle approaches were deteriorating and were replaced with steel piling bents.
This photograph shows on of the bridge plates that adorns this bridge. Bridge plates, also known as builders plaques, were displayed on a bridge crossbeam or end post to advertise the name of the builder. Union Bridge Company, which built this bridge, fabricated many Midwestern bridges.