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The Journey of the Hale Bridge, Wapsipincon State Park, Iowa


Iowa is home to 24,000 bridges ranging from massive concrete overpasses to the covered wooden planks of Madison County. But few of these structures have made a journey comparable to a century-old walkway located here at Wapsipincon State Park.

This is the Hale Bridge…its journey miles downstream was not the result of a 100-year flood. It descended from hundreds of feet above with a little help from some very determined Iowans.

Built in 1879 by the King Bridge Company, the bow string bridge spanned the Wapsipinicon River in eastern Iowa. But more than one hundred years of wear and tear AND the cyclical rise of Iowa’s rivers took its toll.

With Hale bridge scheduled for replacement in 2002, a small band of volunteers stepped forward to preserve the wrought iron structure for future generations.

After raising the necessary funds to restore Hale Bridge, these determined Iowans reserved the best moving team our state has to offer.

The Iowa Army National Guard, equipped with a pair of massive Chinook helicopters, carried three bridge sections airborne in 2006.  The heaviest piece weighed in at 19,600 pounds – only 400 shy of the chopper’s carrying capacity.

More than 15 miles downstream, each span was neatly placed at its new location as hundreds watched in awe.

Hale bridge now links visitors to the natural wonders of Wapsipinicon State Park and carries with it an unrivaled history amongst the thousands of structures that span Iowa.


Tags: bridges hiking history Iowa National Guard nature tourism travel Wapsipinicon State Park

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