The Imes Bridge, built in 1870, is the oldest of the original five remaining
covered bridges in Madison County, Iowa. It is on display in a small park
on the east side of St. Charles, Iowa, just west of Interstate highway I-35
at the Iowa state highway 251 exit. Given its proximity to the Interstate,
this is perhaps the most easily accessible bridges in Madison County for
tourists who are just passing through the area.
It was originally built in the winter of 1870-1871 by carpenter J. P. Clark
over the Middle River near Patterson, Iowa. In 1887, it was moved 5 miles
southeast to span Clanton Creek near Hanley, Iowa. At that site, it was
known as both the Imes Bridge and the King Bridge. A new concrete bridge
was built at that site in 1977. The covered bridge was moved that same year
two miles to the east to its current location east of St. Charles. It has
been known as the Imes Bridge since that time. The bridge was extensively
renovated in 1997.
The Imes Bridge uses the Town Truss design, but it is built lighter than
most of the other historic covered bridges in Madison County. It also
features a pitched roof, much like the Cutler-Donahoe Bridge.
The photo above is looking east towards the Imes Bridge from the edge of
Iowa State Highway 251. The bridge runs southwest to northeast, so this
would be the northwest face of the structure. The photo below is looking
towards the northwest face of the bridge, also from the edge of highway 251.
The photo above is the southwest bridge portal. The bridge is not leaning
over, rather, this is an optical illusion due to the slanted front of the
bridge. The photo below is looking northeast down the length of the
bridge deck towards the parking area.
The photo above is another view of the southwest bridge portal. The photo
below is the northeast bridge portal. The bridge does not cross an active
river. Rather, it is placed over a natural drainage ditch that has since
been filled in when the nearby highway was built.
The photo above is the truss structure on the side of the bridge. While it
is built similar to other local covered bridges, the structure of the Imes
Bridge is built lighter with fewer cross members. The photo below is the
roof structure. Again, the Imes Bridge is different from most other local
covered bridges in that it has a peaked roof rather than a flat roof.
The photo below is a view of the bridge deck as we look down the length of
the interior of the bridge to the southwest towards the small city of St.
Charles. The photo below is a view looking out the southwest bridge portal.
The photo above is the bridge name sign located above one of the portals.
The photo below is a guide sign for tourists.