Iowa boasts several incredible engineering achievements that facilitate the transportation of cars and trains around the state, even if it may not be recognised for its astronomically tall bridges. The fact that none of Iowa’s three tallest bridges are accessible to cars is among its most intriguing features! The new track and the original bridge, which are both part of the state’s train transit route, are the two highest bridges in the entire state.
Despite having the same name, they are not the same height by many feet. Bicyclists and pedestrians can enjoy another tall bridge in Iowa, where they can see the remarkable engineering and architecture. One of these tall bridges should not be missed, whether you are a visitor to Iowa or a native. Since your car cannot cross them, just make sure you choose a spot to park and watch nearby.
Kate Shelley High Bridge
The Kate Shelley High Bridge, also called the Union Pacific Kate Shelley Bridge, is the tallest bridge in the state of Iowa. It crosses the Des Moines River and is 190 feet high. This bridge is not accessible to automobiles or pedestrians; only rail transportation is permitted to cross it. Concrete and steel are used to make it.
After three years of development, it opened in 2009 next to the original bridge of the same name. Although not an official term, Kate Shelley alludes to the narrative of the young Iowan resident Catherine Shelley. She crossed the Honey Creek Bridge in the midst of a thunderstorm to alert authorities after discovering that a train had derailed there and prevented a regularly scheduled passenger train from suffering the same fate.
The Kate Shelley Bridge has also been dubbed (generally unofficially) for other bridges in Iowa. However, because of the significant height difference, it’s simple to tell them apart from this high pass. Both Honey Creek Bridge and the little stone bridge near Shelley’s home are closer to ten feet high, as was the case with the first train catastrophe. At 190 feet high, the enormous Kate Shelley High Bridge is visible.
Old Kate Shelley High Bridge
The bridge was renamed in honour of local hero Kate Shelley, however it was originally known as the Boone Viaduct. Boone, Iowa, is only a few miles distant. In 1901, the 185-foot-tall original expanse was made open to train traffic. The bridge is supported by trestle-style steel supports. Built for the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company, it crosses the Des Moines River. At one point, this railroad business ran more than 12,000 miles of track, but in the 1990s, it shrunk and merged with Union Pacific.
For many years, the bridge supported a single train at a time. Its age and condition became a concern after storm damage in the 1980s. Inspections in 2001 finally convinced the Union Pacific railroad company that a new, modern bridge was the best course of action, even if the old bridge was still functional. The slightly elevated replacement bridge and the original bridge that crosses the Des Moines River remain side by side. The Kate Shelley High Bridge is the collective name for them.
High Trestle Trail Bridge
The High Trestle Trail Bridge, located close to Madrid, Iowa, is a breathtaking sight and experience that combines elements of a bridge and an artwork. It is 130 feet high and only allows bicyclists and pedestrians to pass. The whole trail is around twenty-five miles long. One of the trail’s most recognisable locations is the bridge, which makes for a fantastic photo opportunity. This rather flat trail crosses an old railway pass and has numerous access locations. You can choose to complete a portion or the full 25 miles. Whether you’re on a bike, running, or strolling, the entire trail is paved and simple to navigate.
Overlooking the bridge are forty-one steel frames. These honour coal mine shafts and draw attention to this chapter of the region’s past. Blue illumination illuminates the frames above after dark. The bridge was designed by David Dahlquist, an artist from Iowa. The bridge’s design and construction were made possible by numerous community and artistic organisations. The bridge was recognised with numerous accolades, such as the AIA Iowa Chapter Excellence in Design Merit Award (2011), the Product Innovation Award from Architectural SSL Magazine (2012), and more.
There are six spots to pause and take in the view along the half-mile-long bridge. These are also ideal locations for photos. Just remember that this bridge is reserved for bicyclists and pedestrians. Cars are not permitted to drive on the trail or over the bridge. Fortunately, you can park, explore, and use the path in many of the charming villages along the way.