Keystone Bridge, Elkader Bridge
National Register of Historic Places status:
City of Elkader
Bridge Street over Turkey River in Elkader, Section 23, T93N-R5W (Boardman Township)
At the turn of the century, Clayton County contracted with a variety of firms and individuals to bridge the county's myriad streams and rivers. For longer-span crossings (often across the Turkey River) the county usually opted for iron or steel trusses, whereas at shorter crossings, rudimentary timber stringer structures were often erected. For some crossings, though, the county took advantage of the area's limestone quarries and erected arch bridges built of stone. Constructed by local stone masons, many of these crossings are still in service today. The most notable of Clayton County's stone arches is the 189-foot Keystone Bridge, built over the Turkey River at Elkader in 1888-89.
On June 30, 1888, the Clayton County Board of Supervisors contracted with local masons Byrne and Black to construct this two-span stone arch bridge on Elkader's Main Street. With its construction overseen by James McKinley, supervisor, the bridge was built of limestone quarried from the nearby Coles Quarry. The bridge's base price was listed as $13,000 but additional monies for extra mortar in the wingwalls, coping, end caps and macadam roadway eventually pushed the structure's overall cost to $16,282.49. When completed in August 1889, this impressive new crossing weighed an estimated 18,618,255 pounds, and at the height of the arch, stood 27.9 feet above the stream bed. Now more than one hundred years old, the Elkader Keystone Bridge continues to carry traffic across Turkey River. It displays an exceptionally high degree of craftsmanship and historic integrity [Adapted from Fraser 1991]
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