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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Smith's Island Foot Bridge
Smith's Island Mississippi River Crossing At Pleasant Valley
Pleasant Valley, Iowa

Smith Island Foot Bridge

• Structure ID:
• Location: River Mile 493.2.
• River Elevation: 572 Feet.
• Structure Type: Pedestrian Foot Bridge.
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Arch, Wood Deck.
• Length: 32 Feet Overall (Estimated).
• Width: 6 Feet (Estimated).
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: 8 Feet (Estimated).
• Date Built: Opened 2002 (Estimated).
Smith's Island sits in the Mississippi River just north of the Quad Cities area. It was farmed by the Hoepfner family during the 1800's. Later, in the early 20th century, Hoepfner got the idea to sell parcels of land to individuals. Some landowners used their lots for cabins, some for camping sites, while others used it as a base camp to support other activities such as fishing and bird watching. Access to the island was by ferry boat. It was a cable style ferry where you rode in a boat that was guided by a cable that was strung across the water. To move the boat, the operator would pull on the cable hand over hand.

When the 6 foot navigation channel was built, a canal was dug along the west side of the island. That canal fed a lock (which still exists as the auxiliary lock). A dike was built between the river side of the lock and the island. That dike was needed because the water level in the canal was higher than the water level of the river. The boat traffic required that the ferry cable be removed.

A short time later, Congress approved the 9 foot navigation channel. The plan was to build a new lock and dam to raise the water level 9 feet above the rapids in the main river channel. That is the current Lock & Dam #14. One result of this project is that the water was now the same level on each side of the island. A far more important result was that the higher water level flooded most of the development on Smith's Island. The US Government ended up buying out all the land owners. To help equalize the water level, a small channel was cut across the dike just above the 6 foot lock. This cut off access to Smith's Island.

Fast forward 60 years, and the US Army Corps Of Engineering is running a major project to make all of the lock and dam structures more available for use by the general public. A plan was developed to open Smith's Island to the public. The key part was installing this pedestrian bridge, and developing a trail on the island. That work was completed in 2002.

Visitors to Smith's Island will find plants, animals, and birds that are not common to that part of Iowa. The relatively constant water level allows trees to thrive that are much more common further north along the river. The island is also a popular stop over spot for migrating birds. Unusual and rare birds are spotted here every year.

Smith Island Foot Bridge

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