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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Hogback Bridge
Historic Madison County Covered Bridge
Winterset, IA

Hogback Bridge

• Location: 4 Miles Northwest Of Winterset.
• Construction: Wood Truss, Covered.
• Length: 97 Feet.
• Date Built: 1884, Renovated 1992, Bypassed 1993, Damaged By Arson 2003.
The Hogback Bridge is the northernmost of the six remaining covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa. It is the original 1884 structure at its original location. The bridge piers have been replaced with steel supports, and the structure was extensively renovated in 1992. The bridge was in use until 1993, when it was bypassed by a new concrete bridge located 200 feet south of the structure.

The Hogback Bridge, as well as the Holliwell, Roseman and original Cedar bridges, were all built in the early 1880s by Madison County under crew foreman Harvey P. Jones with George K. Foster in charge of the structure work. These four bridges are all built using the Town Truss design, designed and patented by Ithiel Town. The design uses a lattice of crisscrossing planks to support two parallel beams on each side of the bridge. This allows the bridge to be built without requiring large stone abutments or heavy main beam timbers. In addition, it allows the bridge to be maintained and repaired over time by replacing individual planks rather than replacement of large timbers.

While most of the covered bridges were named after the family who lived the closest to the bridge, the Hogback Bridge is named after a geographical feature. The ridge line at the west end of the valley is formed from two overlapping types of rock that erode at different rates, forming a structure known as a hogback.

Tourists visiting the Hogback Bridge on the afternoon of September 6, 2003, found the bridge to be on fire. They were able to put out the flames before the bridge became engulfed, and damage was limited to a one square foot area of the structure. Two days earlier, another historic covered bridge in Delta, Iowa, was destroyed by arson on the one year anniversary of the arson fire that destroyed the nearby Cedar Bridge in Madison County. It is possible that all of these fires were set by the same person. The arsonist(s) have never been caught despite large rewards being offered. This bridge, as well as the other five remaining bridges, are monitored 24 hours per day by video camera and alarm systems.

The photo above is looking upstream towards the south face of the Hogback Bridge. The vantage point is the deck of the new bridge over North River on Hogback Bridge Road. The photo below is looking northeast towards the west end of the Hogback Bridge from the parking area on the west side of the river.


Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
These two photos are additional views of Hogback Bridge from the west bank of North River. The photo above is from the park area located south of the bridge, while the photo below is from the edge of the riverbank.

Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
These two photos are views of Hogback Bridge from the east bank of North River. The photo above is from the edge of the riverbank, while the photo below is from near the southeast corner of the structure.

Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
The photo above is the west bridge portal. The road made a curve as it approached the west end of the bridge, resulting in the approach span being wider than the bridge on the right side of the photo. The photo below is the east bridge portal. The road curved to the right side of this photo, accounting for the approach span flaring out a bit to the right.

Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
The photo above is the interior of the bridge at the west portal. The interior is sheeted off with wood planks on both sides of both portals. Tourists use this space to sign their names and leave messages. The photo below is the truss structure on the north side of the bridge. The truss work looks identical to several other covered bridges in Madison County, such as the Roseman Bridge.

Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
The photo above is a detailed look at the ceiling of the bridge. The roof of the bridge is almost flat, with only a very small peak at the center of the roof. The photo below is the bridge deck.

Hogback Bridge
Hogback Bridge
The photo above is the bridge name sign above on of the bridge portals. The photo below is a guide sign for tourists. Each of the six remaining bridges has a similar guide sign.

Hogback Bridge

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