History

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The High Trestle Bridge spans the banks of the Des Moines River Valley and is located between the rural communities of Woodward and Madrid. It connects the 25 miles of High Trestle trail running through five local Iowa communities: Ankeny, Sheldahl, Slater, Woodward and Madrid - and four Iowa counties: Polk, Story, Dallas and Boone. It is also the much anticipated link to 670 miles of trail systems connecting Des Moines to other areas of Central Iowa.

From the bridge you can look out over the terrain and it appears much the same as it did when it was formed more 12,000 years ago. The valley was originally inhabited by Native Americans who built their encampments along the banks where access to water and transportation were easiest.

Western expansion and development of the railroads in the mid-to late 1800s brought a large population of Italian immigrants to Central Iowa to work in the coal mines. Camps were built along the river valley to support the growing population and in 1881 the first railroad was built in the region. Needing to cross the river valley, a wooden bridge was completed in the 1880s. It was recreated in metal in 1912 and later rebuilt using concrete in the 1970s.

In 2005, the Union Pacific Railroad sold the track to The Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation who worked with the communities and counties to make the paved trail and iconic bridge a reality.

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