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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Black Hawk Bridge
IA-9/WI-82 Mississippi River Crossing At Lansing
Lansing, Iowa

Black Hawk Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 000000000013520 (IA), B12000900000000 (WI).
• Location: River Mile 663.4.
• River Elevation: 620 Feet.
• Highway: IA-9, WI-82
• Daily Traffic Count: 2,357 (2003).
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 1,635 Feet.
• Width: 21 Feet, 2 Lanes.
• Navigation Channel Width: 640 Feet.
• Height Above Water: 68 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened June 17, 1931.
This is perhaps the most unusual bridge that crosses the Mississippi River. It has what appears to be a single Warren Truss bridge section in the middle held up by two cantilevered steel trusses. While this bridge has served well for 70 years, the DOT from Iowa and Wisconsin have concluded that this bridge is obsolete. Even worse, traffic levels and the remoteness of the bridge do not warrant the cost of new bridge. DOT officials have considered closing this bridge, leaving a 63 mile gap between crossings in La Crosse and Prairie du Chien.

This is not the Black Hawk Bridge's first brush with closing. An ice jam in 1945 caused the failure of one of the four approach bridges. The bridge operator could not afford to fix the damage and the company failed. As a result, the bridge remained closed from 1945 to 1957, when it was bought by the States of Iowa and Wisconsin. The two states replaced the approach bridges and refurbished the main span structure.

Movie buffs might remember seeing the Black Hawk Bridge in a recent movie called "The Straight Story". The movie featured the story of Alvin Straight, an elderly man from Iowa who has failing eyesight and had lost his ability to drive. Straight gets a phone call that his estranged brother has had a stroke. Despite his brother being 250 miles to the east in Wisconsin, Straight sets off in his John Deere lawn mower to see his brother and mend the fences. In reality, Straight crossed a different bridge, but the Black Hawk Bridge was used in the movie.

The bridge is named after Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk tribe. They are most noted for a uprising to try to reclaim their land in 1832. After being trapped along the river, Black Hawk tried to surrender. The Army troops did not understand his gesture, and killed the two Sauk peace emissaries. The next day, the Sauk were pinned down in a major battle, where they took heavy losses. Some Sauk escaped across the Mississippi River, only to be killed by the Sioux. The battle has since become known as the Bad Axe Massacre.


Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge
Black Hawk Bridge

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