Historic Hale Bridge airlifted by Iowa National Guard Chinook helicopters

March 8, 2006



Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

The historic Hale Bridge was airlifted in three sections by two Iowa Army National Guard Chinook helicopters from rural Olin/Hale to Anamosa, Iowa. The History Channel will document the event for its show, Mega Movers.

Approximately 20-25 personnel and two CH-47 “Chinook” helicopters airlifted three separate, rehabilitated trusses of the historic Hale Bridge from the Olin/Hale area to their new home at the Wapsipinicon State Park in Anamosa. The Chinook helicopters were from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 211th Aviation (formerly known as Detachment 1, Company F, 106th Aviation) in Davenport. Additional support to the mission was provided by one UH-60 “Blackhawk” helicopter from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation, Boone. Rigging of the bridge sections occured March 7 with the actual transport of the sections scheduled for the morning of March 8. The Hale Bridge has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It will be renominated to the list once it is placed in its new location at the Wapsipinicon State Park, where it will serve pedestrian traffic. Aerial video and still images of the move will be available for media organizations. In the event of inclement weather conditions, the airlift will happen on Thursday, March 9. Notification of any changes will be distributed Tuesday, March 7.

The wrought iron Hale Bridge, completed in 1879, replaced a flood-prone wooden structure erected only nine years earlier. The new bridge provided year round access across the Wapsipinicon River between the northern and southern halves of Hale Township, and spurred economic development in this area of Jones County by providing safe and reliable access to the rail line and depot at Hale Village.

Bowstring types like this one with their distinctive arched or curved trusses largely replaced wooden bridges over major streams and crossings in Iowa in the 1870s and 1880s. While there were literally hundreds of bowstring arch bridges in Iowa by the end of the 19th century, only 21 now remain scattered across the state in Allamakee, Bremer, Crawford, Dubuque, Johnson, Jones, Montgomery, Poweshiek, and Winnishiek counties.

The bridge became eligible for the National Register in 1992, but it suffered damage in the 1993 floods. After it was repaired in a historically appropriate manner, it was listed on the National Register in 1998. At the time, the three-span bridge was the longest standing bowstring arch bridge in Iowa. A year earlier, however, Jones County officials closed the bridge to traffic because of deterioration and structural deficiencies.

In 2003, the bridge was dismantled and its three spans were moved into storage for refurbishment and restoration, and to allow construction of the new Hale Bridge.

Meanwhile, the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission took the lead locally in terms of building support for the bridge project through fundraising and volunteer efforts. In addition to considerable financial support from individuals and groups in and outside of Jones County, the Preservation Commission has received $445,000 in grants from the State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa Department of Transportation, Iowa Department of Economic Development, Regional East Central Iowa Council of Government, REAP, RACI and Silos and Smokestacks.

The first $2,000 for the project was donated by King Iron Bridge, the original manufacturer of the Hale Bridge. Allen King Sloan, a descendant of the company’s founder, plans to be in attendance for the move on Wednesday.

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