100-year-old suspension bridge - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

100-year-old suspension bridge

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by Danielle Wagner

CHARLES CITY (KWWL) In Charles City, more than 500 homes were affected by rising flood waters last June.

All the bridges across the Cedar River were closed indefinitely and the town's 100-year-old suspension bridge was literally swept away by the water.

Piers are all that remain of Charles City's suspension bridge. Built in July 1906, the unique bridge was more than 100 years old.

It was originally built so people could cross the river to attend the town's Chautauqua Celebration.

The bridge was completed in a matter of days and spanned 467 feet. But last year, flood waters swept the historic bridge away.

"The thing I remember the most is you think of floods as raging water, but it isn't. It just creeps up and things disappear and you go look and see what's disappeared," said Donna Peeke.

Donna Peeke is a 16-year resident of Charles City. She and her husband would cross the bridge on evening walks. It's also the first place they would take visitors.

"It was fun because it was a suspension bridge and it moved when you walked on it and moved again when other people walked on it. Always fun to take new people across it," said Peeke.

Kay Young has lived in Charles City her entire life. She remembers crossing the suspension bridge each summer as a child to get to the pool.

"Now that it's not there children don't go by. I happen to live in that neighborhood so you notice because children aren't going by all day long to the pool," said Young.

Young's children used the bridge to get to the pool and she took her grandchildren across it to feed the ducks.

"I just think we all have such tender memories about the bridge," she said.

Memories... from childhood experiences to marriage proposals to seeing the bridge lit... are the main reason so many people in town want the bridge replaced.

"It's an important part of Charles City and needs to be replaced," said Peeke.

The suspension bridge was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

Donna Peeke and Kay Young realize the original suspension bridge can't be replicated, but they want some type of bridge for the younger generations.

As of now, the city plans to replace the suspension bridge with a cable-stayed bridge. It's similar to a suspension bridge, the main difference is how the load of the bridge is supported.

The city hopes to start work on the project early next spring. The cost is $3.2 million, which FEMA will help cover.

Due to new regulations in the last 100 years, the bridge will be updated ncluding a wider walkway.

For more information on the suspension bridge and to see a model version, visit the Floyd County Historical Museum in Charles City.

Reporter: Danielle Wagner

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