Did You Know Iowa Is Home To One Of The Tallest Bridges In America?
Everyone Iowan has heard the stereotypes about the Hawkeye state. "Everyone is a farmer, there's nothing but cornfields, everyone lives in the country, all Iowans drink Busch light".... yada yada. Well...that last one might have a little truth to it. I mean, it was backed by science.
Another stereotype of Iowa is that it's flat. Sure, there are parts of Iowa that appear very flat but Iowa has an incredibly diverse landscape with peaks and valley's all over the place. If Iowa is so flat, how could it be home to one of the tallest double-track railroad bridges in the United States?
According to Roadside America, the Kate Shelley High Bridge, located 3 miles west of Boone, Iowa, is considered one of the tallest and longest, double-track railroad bridges in America. It was built in 1901 and still stands tall to this day. The bridge, originally known as the Boone Viaduct, rises 185 feet above the Des Moines River and runs 2,685 feet long, which is just over half a mile.
The railroad bridge lost its original name because of one heroic Iowa teenager. According to Only In Your State, in 1881 Kate Shelley ran outside into a thunderstorm to warn a train that the bridge in Moingona had been washed out. Kate then led other rescuers to Honey Creek, where they pulled two men to safety from the flood waters. When the new Boone Viaduct was built, it lost its name to history as travelers just started calling it the "Kate Shelley High Bridge."
After years of wear and tear and wind damage in the 1980s, the original bridge required extensive repair. In 2001, the Union Pacific railway had taken over and decided they needed to put a speed limit of 25mph on the damaged bridge.
In 2006, construction began on a new concrete bridge right next to the old one. The new Kate Shelley High bridge completed construction in 2009 and was built 160 longer and slightly higher than the original, according to Only In Your State. The new concrete bridge can now handle two trains simultaneously traveling at 70 mph.
One of the coolest parts about the original bridge is the fact this old and retired bridge is still standing to this day and as of now, there are no plans on taking it down.