Historic Bridges of Iowa
||concrete through girder|
||Replaced in 2007|
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U Avenue over Stoe Creek, 8.9 miles northwest of Oelwein, Section 11, T92N-R10W (Fremont Township)
Located northwest of Oelwein, this short-span concrete bridge carries a gravel-surfaced county road over Stoe Creek. The bridge is comprised of a single through girder span, with reinforced concrete substructure, deck and guardrails that double as the girders. The Stoe Creek Bridge dates to 1913. In June and July of that year the Fayette County Board of Supervisors awarded contracts to several bridge builders for several small-scale bridges, including the Stoe Creek Bridge in Fremont Township. Begun by Des Moines contractor N.M. Stark in 1913, it was completed the following year for a cost of $1654.00. Since its completion in1914, the Stoe Creek Bridge has carried vehicular traffic, in unaltered condition.
Carrying the roadway deck between the two structural beams, the through girder bridge was one of the first standard designs developed by the state highway commission after its re-organization in 1913. Several of Iowa's counties built through girder bridges in the 1910s, although none appears to have embraced this structural type more than Fayette. The advantage of the through girder was that it required less clearance between the roadway and the high water mark than did the deck girder. Its disadvantages were that it required slightly more material than the deck girder and it was not as flexible: with the structural members above the deck, the through girder could not be widened later. Ultimately the disadvantages outweighed the advantages, and the through girder was phased out of common use in Iowa by the early 1920s. It is not known where the first ISHC-standard through girder was built, but the Stoe Creek Bridge in Fayette County was certainly among the earliest of its type in the state. This modestly scaled and detailed bridge is today noteworthy as one of the oldest remaining examples in Iowa of concrete through girder, designed by the state highway commission and built by Iowa's most prolific concrete bridge contractor. It is thus a technologically important, transportation-related resource [adapted from Fraser 1992].