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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Historic US-136 Mississippi River Crossing At Keokuk
Keokuk, Iowa

Keokuk Municipal Bridge

• Structure ID:  
• Location: River Mile 363.9.
• River Elevation: 480 Feet.
• Railroad: Keokuk Junction Railroad.
• Daily Traffic Count: 1 Train Per Day (Estimated).
• Bridge Type: Steel Through Truss w/Swing Span.
• Length: 3,800 Feet Overall, 380 Foot Swing Span.
• Width: 2 Lanes (Upper), 1 Track (Lower).
• Navigation Channel Width: 158 Feet, 2 Channels.
• Height Above Water: 25 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened September 1916.
The first bridge at this location opened in 1870, and was one of the first 15 bridges built over the great river. The Keokuk rapids had not been tamed at that time, so construction was dangerous in the fast rough waters. In fact, the bridge was hit and damaged several times by river boats. The bridge featured a single deck bridge with buggy, auto, truck, and pedestrian traffic sharing the same level as the rail line. This lead to lengthy delays for trains as they waited for the bridge to be cleared.

The current bridge was built in 1915 and 1916 on the same piers as the 1870 bridge. To eliminate the train delays, the bridge was built with a second deck to handle US-136 highway traffic.

These bridges were promoted by Andrew Carnegie, and were built by the Keokuk and Hamilton Bridge Company. The bridge company ran into financial problems in the 1940's. Ownership was transferred to the City of Keokuk in 1948, thus, the name Keokuk Municipal Bridge.

A new US-136 highway bridge opened in late 1985, which removed traffic off of the upper deck. As a result, the upper deck was closed, and refurbished as an observation deck to watch navigation traffic and dam operations at Lock & Dam #19 just up river.

On Monday, January 29, 2007, two cars of a KJRY train derailed. The cars were drug across the bridge. The wheels damaged or broke about two-thirds of the ties on the railroad deck. The bridge will be closed at least 90 days. The ties on the bridge, while still in good condition prior to the accident, are of a lighter design than what current railroad standards require. The City of Keokuk had been considering replacing the ties on the bridge with heavier ties. This project would cost between one and two million dollars. The rail bridge primarily serves a Roquette America plant. The city is losing revenue while the bridge is closed, revenue that is needed to maintain the bridge.

Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge
Keokuk Municipal Bridge

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