Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515)
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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