Documentary on YouTube PDF Print E-mail

The documentary is now on YouTube. Please watch and let us know what you think.

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We are also selling raffle tickets for a 1988 Suzuki 450. Tickets are $10 and you can do it right here on PayPal. Drawing is April 1st.

Learn about Historic Truss Bridge Restoration PDF Print E-mail

Documentary on Historic Truss Bridge Restoration                    For Immediate Release

GRINNELL, IOWA -- June 4, 2012     The N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association is pleased to announce that the documentary Workin' Bridges: Historic Truss Bridge Restoration featuring the McIntyre Bowstring and Piano Bridge, has been selected to open the show at the Snake Alley Festival of Film on June 7th at 2:00pm in Burlington, Iowa. Narrated by Nels Raynor of BACH Steel out of Holt, Michigan and filmed by Julie Bowers of The N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association, the film demonstrates that iron bridges can be restored to many functions including vehicular traffic.

All aspects of the Piano Bridge restoration and construction project are covered, from heat straightening eye-bars, forging or fabricating new parts, welding and hot riveting. The Piano Bridge is lifted from it’s piers, taken apart, fixed, put back together and reset under the careful watch of DAVis Construction, Inc. of Lansing Michigan. In depth interviews with the craftsmen and engineers·provide context for the retrovative concepts. John Barton, Chief Engineer of Texas Department of Transportation discusses the I35 bridge collapse tragedy and the importance of Historic Preservation. We needn't lose the past to get to the future. Music by Grateful Dead accompanies the bridge lift, providing understanding that these truss bridges were built to last.

You can check out or at their Facebook page at!/pages/Snake-Alley-Festival-of-Film/252499188099817/julie.bowers1?ref=tn_tnmn#!/pages/Snake-Alley-Festival-of-Film/252499188099817

The 43 minute DVD is now available for sale at It costs $10 plus shipping of $3.50 or 4.95 for priority. Your donation for the dvd is tax deductible. Please call Julie Bowers at 641.260.1262 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with any questions or to order a DVD.

Upper Bluffton Bridges For Sale PDF Print E-mail

October 13, 2011  

DES MOINES, IOWA  – On Tuesday, October 4,  members of the Department of Natural Resources and Julie Bowers of the N. Skunk River Greenbelt Association’s Workin’ Bridges met to discuss the fate of the Upper Bluffton Bridge in Winneshiek County.  The intact spans were placed on DNR property near the Upper Iowa River and plans  being made to find a new home have run into delays. $10,000 is estimated to disassemble, transport and store the bridge,  Residents of Winneshiek County had begun to email regarding leaving the bridge where it sits, putting it upon a foundation to make a picnic area / monument to Bluffton, much like the bowstring park in Decorah.  That plan was discussed at length by Roger Lande – Director, Chuck Corell – Division Administrator (Conservation & Recreation Division), Diane Ford – Legislative Liaison (Conservation & Recreation Division), Jeff Joens – Executive Officer (Wildlife Bureau) and Travis Baker – Bureau Chief (Land & Waters Bureau).

The consensus: DNR and Workin Bridges seek a solution that moves the bridge from the flood plain. Ideas could include being put back into light vehicular or trail sytems for a variety of uses.  Proposals are being sought from any source to outline how they could use the bridges and determine the financial strategy.  Director Lande brought in the REAP Coordinator Tammie Krausman to work with our non-profit, NSRGA, to publicize the Pratt and Pony trusses for use in other counties in Iowa,. Ms. Krausman stated that most of the trail grants in the REAP program have some sort of crossing, usually the most expensive part of the request. Having each county look at their own resources would be a huge win for both historic bridges, groups utilizing trails and the economy. The DNR team understood that utilizing an historic bridge can be affordable solution  for trail crossings while keeping a part of Iowa’s history alive. NSRGA wants to thank the Governor’s office for helping set this meeting with DNR. At Director Lande’ srequest, Travis Baker has been working with Bowers for the last month to find a solution for those trusses.

Along with the 116’ iron Pratt truss called the Upper Bluffton Bridge, there is a 38’ Queen Post, Pony truss available for sale through Workin’ Bridges. A bowstring truss, Daley’s (Gilliece) Bridge, comes up next year for replacement in Winneshiek County. NSRGA would urge every county to look at their own historic bridge resources and see where they might be able to revitalize a park, build a trail, or provide a spot to watch a river flow. IaDOT has a database of historic bridges at their website

All proposals, picture requests and questions can be directed to Julie Bowers at NSRGA / Workin’ Bridges at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 641.260.1262.  More information can be found at or Workin’ Bridges on Facebook.

Last Ditch Effort to Save Upper Bluffton Bridge PDF Print E-mail

For Immediate Release - September 4, 2011

1880 Upper Bluffton Bridge - Waiting

Last Ditch Effort to Save the Historic Upper Bluffton Bridge

GRINNELL, IA — Three months of negotiations on the status of the Upper Bluffton Bridge to retain it on the National Register of Historic Places, plus losing the battle of fundraising has put the Upper Bluffton Bridge back on the chopping (read scrapping) block. Workin’ Bridges was contacted two weeks ago by Lee Bjerke, engineer of Winneshiek County about his concerns that the bridge was still standing on DNR land near the new bridge construction project.

Efforts so far have netted $500 for the dismantle. Brennan Construction did what they said they would do, fly the spans intact off the river. So far we have not had success to find a new owner or use, but that effort is just hampered by not being able to afford to take it down ourselves this summer. “I asked him for a few more weeks”, stated Julie Bowers. “We just haven’t been able to raise any money to disassemble the bridge. We have had the offer to transport it to storage, but we need to pay for that fuel”. BACH Steel needs $10,000 to mobilize 4 men, 2 trucks with welding equipment, the rental of a SkyTrack for disassembly of the top chord and a fork truck to get the pieces on the trucks.

“That’s at least 6 days of motels, food, plus the fuel,” said Nels Raynor, President of BACH Steel, “if I could have volunteered all of our time I would have, but it’s been a tough year.” We are looking for any ideas or volunteers with expertise that could help lighten the expense. If we all pull together we can preserve the Upper Bluffton Bridge until the next use for it can be found. We got into the process too late and all efforts so far have not met with success. But, more calls are coming in every day about these bridges, or stories about these bridges.

Texas Department of Transportation has changed their way of thinking about truss bridges as well, so we are hoping some of the technical engineering concepts will be published about working with old iron and engineering back to vehicular traffic, where there are alternate routes and low daily traffic. It makes sense econonomically. We are also in the planning for the Gilliece (Daley’s) Bowstring Bridge, but we hope to have some of the money come from estimating the move, unlike this time where there was no room in the budget for the dismantlement as were not in on the process from the beginning.

Please contact Julie Bowers with any ideas, comments or questions at 641.260.1262 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . More information can be found at or on Facebook at Workin’ Bridges. Thank you for your support of historic truss bridge restoration and preservation.

Workin' Bridges in the News PDF Print E-mail

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