Kate Shelley High Bridge

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Kate Shelley High Bridge
Kate Shelley High Bridge-Construction-center facing west.jpg
original steel on the left; new concrete/steel on the right
Carries freight trains
Crosses Des Moines River
Locale Boone, Iowa
Maintained by Union Pacific
Designer George S. Morison
Material Steel
Total length 2,685 ft (818 m)
Height 185 ft (56 m)
Piers in water 8-16
Construction begin 1899
Construction end 1901


Boone Viaduct
Kate Shelley High Bridge is located in Iowa
Kate Shelley High Bridge
Coordinates 42°3′33″N 93°58′12″W / 42.05917°N 93.97000°W / 42.05917; -93.97000Coordinates: 42°3′33″N 93°58′12″W / 42.05917°N 93.97000°W / 42.05917; -93.97000
Architect George S. Morison
Governing body Chicago and North Western Railway
NRHP Reference # 78001207 [1]
Added to NRHP November 17, 1978

The Kate Shelley High Bridge is among the highest double-track railroad bridges in the United States. It is located approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) west 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.[2] It stands 185 feet (56 m) above the Des Moines River and is 2,685 feet (818 m) long. The bridge was renamed in 1912 to honor Kate Shelley.


By the mid-1950s, traffic on the bridge was limited to one train at a time.[3] In 1986, some of the bridge towers were damaged in a wind storm.[3] Union Pacific Railroad is the current owner of the bridge, and starting in 2001, they undertook an inspection and repair program; this resulted in both tracks being opened again, but with a 25-mile-per-hour (40 km/h) slow order.[3]

The bridge is located on an east/west Union Pacific main line—the Overland Route[4]—connecting Chicago to the west coast.[5]

New Bridge[edit]

From 2006 to 2009, Union Pacific constructed a new double track concrete and steel bridge next to the old span.[6] During construction, the bridge was lengthened 160 feet (49 m) to the east due to instability of the bank caused by heavy rains in Spring 2008; this delayed completion by at least eight months.[7] The bridge opened to traffic on August 20, 2009, when the Union Pacific ran its first train across the new span.[6] The new bridge can handle two trains simultaneously at 70 mph (110 km/h), and at 2,813 feet (857 m) long and 190 feet (58 m) high,[6] the new bridge is longer and slightly taller than the original. The original bridge was left in place.

New Kate Shelley Bridge
Carries Heavy rail
Crosses Des Moines River
Locale Boone, Iowa
Maintained by Union Pacific
Material Concrete and steel
Total length 2,813 ft (857 m)
Height 190 ft (58 m)
Construction begin 2006
Construction end 2009
Opened 2009


External links[edit]