Keithsburg Rail Bridge

The Keithsburg Bridge was a vertical lift bridge that carried a single railroad track across the Mississippi River between Louisa County, Iowa and Keithsburg, Illinois.

Keithsburg Bridge
A 1927 aerial view of Keithsburg and the railroad bridge
Coordinates41°06′18″N 90°57′10″W / 41.10500°N 90.95278°W / 41.10500; -90.95278
CarriesAbandoned single-track railroad,
formerly Chicago & Northwestern
CrossesMississippi River
LocaleIowa and Keithsburg, Illinois
DesignPratt-truss with vertical-lift mainspan
Longest span220 feet (67 m)
DesignerWaddell & Harrington
ClosedJune 21, 1981 (main span only)

The bridge was constructed for the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway in 1909 and traffic across the bridge was discontinued in 1971 by then owner Chicago and North Western, who had purchased the M&StL in 1960. After the line was abandoned, the vertical lift was locked in the up position for several years until the lift portion was accidentally destroyed by fireworks and the ensuing fire on June 21, 1981.[1][2] The 220-foot (67 m) vertical lift section fell into the river blocking barge traffic on the main channel of the Mississippi River for more than a week until it was removed by the US Army Corps of Engineers.[3] The USGS aerial photo from March 2000, and satellite mapping views taken since then, show the bridge standing but missing its vertical lift section.

Iowa Central railroad bridge (1889)

This bridge replaced a previous Iowa Central railroad bridge, constructed in 1886 by the Phoenix Bridge Company,[4] that crossed at the same location. As of 2014, the old stone piers from the previous bridge were still standing next to the current bridge.

See also



  1. ^ Ward, Vaughn (Fall 1984). "Rise & Fall of Keithsburg, IL Bridge" (PDF). Northwestern Lines Magazine: 52.
  2. ^ UPI (1981-06-30). "Span of Illinois Bridge Falls, Blocking Mississippi River". New York Times article.
  3. ^ Rather, Dan (1981-07-06). "Removal of demolished bridge in Keithsburg, Illinois". CBS Evening News. CBS.
  4. ^ "Journal of the Western Society of Engineers". 8. Western Society of Engineers. 1903. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)