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Historic Wabash Bridge Restoration Enhances Longstanding Ottumwa Trail System 

The restoration of the historic Wabash Bridge marks a significant milestone for Ottumwa, Iowa’s beloved trail system. Built in 1888 by the Detroit Bridge and Iron Works, this three-span rail trail bridge over the Des Moines River has a rich history. It once facilitated the transportation of supplies for major companies like Morrell, Dane, and John Deere. Despite suffering a collapse in 1973 and subsequent disuse by the railroad, the bridge’s significance endures. 

In 2007, community efforts led by the Wapello County Trails Council and the Board of Supervisors saved the bridge from demolition, securing grants and raising $30,000 to incorporate it into the trail system. Despite facing arson and fires in 2008, 2021, and 2022, the bridge was preserved and restored, showcasing the community’s resilience and dedication. 

With the most recent $20,900 grant from the Legacy Foundation’s Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund and volunteer support, the bridge recently reopened. This project included constructing a connector, repairing damage, replacing electrical services, and redecking. A significant part of this grant was the installation of security cameras to proactively protect the bridge and ensure the safety of this valuable community asset. 

The Wabash Bridge now serves as a vital link across the Des Moines River, enhancing the Wapello County Trails. It connects users to the community’s history, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities, making it a treasured landmark and a testament to Ottumwa’s heritage and future. 

Please consider supporting the Wapello County Trails Association to continue preserving and enhancing our trail system. Visit Wapello County Trails Association for more information. 

If you have innovative ideas or projects that can further enrich our community, we encourage you to submit your proposals today. The Bright Ideas Community Enrichment Fund grant application deadline is June 30th, at 5:00 p.m. Complete your application conveniently online at: