Kate Shelley High Bridge
The Kate Shelley High Bridge is among the highest double-track railroad bridges in the United States. It is located approximately 3 miles west of the city of Boone, Iowa. The bridge was designed by George S. Morison for the Chicago and North Western Railway and was constructed from 1899 to 1901. It stands 185 ft above the Des Moines River with a length of 2,685 ft. The bridge was renamed in 1912 to honor Kate Shelley.

New Bridge
The original double track bridge was aging and trains where subject to a slow order, with reduced speeds of 25 mph while crossing it. Union Pacific Railroad, current owners of the original Chicago and North Western Railway property, constructed a new double track concrete and steel bridge next to the old span. The bridge is located on an essential east/west Union Pacific mainline--the Overland Route --connecting Chicago to the west coast, and it was more cost effective to build a new bridge capable of higher speeds. The current bridge and its name will apparently remain. Differing reports claim that the bridge will be used as a rails-to-trails project, pedestrian bridge, service bridge, or simply that the rails will be removed. Some even claim the bridge will be destroyed--a dangerous, unused structure such as this would pose a liability to Union Pacific as a "beautiful nuisance," despite its landmark status. The new structure is slated to be slightly smaller than the existing bridge, at approximately 180 ft high and 2,550 ft long (tentative reports vary). Despite the reduced dimensions of the new structure, the concrete/steel crossing of the Des Moines River near Boone shall retain the title of the highest double-track trestle in the United States .

Construction Delays
As cited in several articles dated 2007, the planned completion/opening date of the new bridge was originally November or December of 2008; however, various complications, including the floods of 2008 delayed completion by almost a year. The 2008 Iowa floods were responsible for somewhere near $7 billion in damage, so it appears logical flooding was to blame for unanticipated delays.

The bridge opened to traffic on August 20, 2009, when the Union Pacific ran its first train across the new span. The old span will be kept, and most likely will be used as an access road.

Building Activity

  • Nadezhda Nikolova
    Nadezhda Nikolova activity.buildings_person.create
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com