Sunday, June 12, 2011

Thirteen stories high, cool, and free. What are you waiting for?

It was the kind of evening every married couple knows, I think -- the kind where you're arguing just to argue and neither of you is going to give an inch.  So I suggested a change of venue. We'd been wanting to visit the new High Trestle Bridge northwest of Des Moines and the weather looked as if it was going to cooperate, even if only briefly. He grumbled a bit, but we headed out. 

Suffice it to say my directions were a tad incomplete, but thanks to a lucky turn down a gravel road, we found the parking lot closest to the bridge. We chatted briefly about the wisdom of walking a couple of miles in flip-flops (I know -- what were we thinking?), but we started down the trail anyhow.

And here, in words and pictures, is how we found more than we had bargained for. In a good way.

Only 4,000 steps? In flip-flops? No problem.

So we walk a while, and ... only 5,000 steps? Are we going the wrong way?

Ah. There it is. 

We learn that the artist who conceived the art for the bridge, David Dahlquist, designed it to resemble a trip down a mine shaft. Much of central Iowa was built on mining, and the materials with which the art was built also pay homage to this history.
While Kev walks bravely near the edge, I hug the middle. I seem to have forgotten on the way here that I am afraid of bridges, especially ones over water. Troubled or otherwise. 

Have I mentioned that this bridge is 13 stories high?

At a lookout station, we catch this cool view.  My architect friend Diane would be loving this.

The bridge spans a half mile over the Des Moines River. It feels a bit longer than that when your heart is pounding. 

How he's brave enough to look down, I have no idea. The height is pretty breathtaking, though.
Another really nice view. The geometry changes as you walk along.  

Can't get enough of the unique views.

Viewing the Highway 210 bridge from a lookout station

The view from the Woodward end of the bridge. We started in Madrid, and unbelievably, we made it to the other side , despite my whining and shaking and, occasionally, yelping.

At dusk, the lights turned on. They're blue, not purple. The photo doesn't do this justice. Beautiful.

The pillars that mark the Woodward end of the bridge. We met some new friends from Sheldahl. There they are, walking along. Hi, friends who live on a farm whose names I can't remember!
No horses on bridge; good idea. Apparently there's no "no bats" sign, though. But more on that later... 

A little bridge history. Worth reading. 

The lookout station on the Woodward side. It bears the year 1912 and belongs to the bridge that used to be there.

Look closely. See the "1912"?

I take a breath and we start back across. This time, the walk is not so windy.  
The lights span the river's main channel, the little guide things tell us.

Love these angles.

Being a good sport. Then he tells me he sees some bats flying overhead. I respond that if he encloses me in a box or a nonfunctioning elevator, he'll have hit all of my phobias in one handy trip!

The little guide things tell us that the circles on the pillars represent coal -- again, honoring the many immigrants who made a living in the coal mines of Madrid and Boone. Many of them were Italians, so I find this especially interesting.

We'll be back, and we'll drag a kid or two with us next time. 



  1. Love it! Now tell us how to get there! PLeease! :)

  2. Michele, take Highway 141 to the Madrid exit and go into Madrid. Follow the signs to the trailhead and you're there!

  3. I've read about this and now, seeing your post, I definitely want to check it out. Thirteen stories high!