There's an interesting urban legend that accompanies a quite amazing and historic pedestrian bridge in Columbus Junction. As the tale goes, an Indian maiden was so grief stricken by the death of her lover that she threw herself into the sizable ravine that the bridge crosses and and therefore leaped to her death. Legend has it that she is buried in the ravine below and is said to haunt the area. While Iowa Adventurer did not visit the bridge at night, reports are that you can sometimes hear a woman crying and that is, presumably, the deceased Indian maiden.
Is that tale true? I'm not sure. Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure is a hellova story. As such, the bridge has been aptly named "Lovers Leap Bridge". The sign near the bridge says the trees know but they won't tell.
It's got an incredible history that goes back 140 years. In fact, 100 years ago (1920), two boys were on the bridge when it collapsed. Despite the bridge being eight stories off the ground, neither were injured. Some have speculated that it was the ghost of the Indian Maiden who protected them.
If you decide to go check it out yourself, you won't have too much trouble finding it. The Louisa County community of about 1900 does a nice job directing visitors to the bridge. I simply plugged in the bridge in my phone and the GPS took me right there. However, the town does have some nice signs making sure you do not miss it. It's right off Highway 92.
I parked at an area closest to the road, where there is ample parking. However, you can also park closer to where the bridge starts.
Near this parking area is a nice installation with benches that honors those donors who have helped preserve and enhance this incredibly cool community attraction. The metal piece at the top is a sort of "logo" of the bridge. It's an image of a cow crossing the bridge, which is another urban legend dating back decades.
Under the pergola is "plus sign" of bricks that includes the name of donors. There looks to be some bricks available if someone is looking to make a donation to the cause.
You can head up a nice sidewalk, which will take you to where the bridge starts.
As noted earlier, there is some additional parking nearby.
The bridge begins at what is essentially the end of a residential street.
There are a couple of signs, some concrete barriers, a plastic white fence, and trash and recycling containers nearby.
Incidentally, there are two signs and once says the bridge's history begins in 1880. The other says 1886. I'm curious as to which one is more accurate.
Once you head down to the bridge, you encounter a small blue roofed structure that provides a little bit of shelter. On the day of my visit, it was raining pretty bit and so that was a welcome respite.
Inside that blue roofed structure is a couple of benches that face each other.
The actual bridge is a four (4) feet wide and 262 feet long. I'm certainly no engineer, but those who are would dub this a "suspension bridge". The floor consists of wooden planks and the sides are kind of a mesh wire. There are other wood and metal supports throughout the length of it.
In the course of my adventures around Iowa, I've checked out two other swinging pedestrian bridges: one in Iowa Falls and the other in Estherville. While this one simply crosses a deep ravine, the other two cross sizable rivers.
Compared to those two, this particular bridge has A LOT more swing to it. In fact, as I was about ready to leave, a group of guys showed up and started crossing it and that made my trip across much more interesting. The more people on the bridge at a time, the more it swings. That said, I definitely never felt unsafe. However, if you are one that gets a little squeamish with heights or motion, you may want to tread carefully.
When you do make it to the other side, there's a very nice park-like area to enjoy.
I spent a few minutes appreciating the flowers, the metal sculpture, and the nice picnic area.
The other end of the bridge also includes a nice little patio-like area with a bench and a nice sidewalk with a railing.
There's also a sign thanking donors who purchased planks during a fundraising campaign from a few years ago.
As you get ready to head back across, don't forget to appreciate the incredible beauty of the ravine below and around you.
Naturally, since my visit was in the middle of summer, the trees and flowers were in full bloom. I'm sure there are things or views to appreciate in any of the four seasons
As you can see down below, there are some hiking paths available. I was getting pretty wet with the rain so I did not make time to explore those. However, I'll have to make that part of a return trip.
One of the hiking paths is called Possom Hollow Trail.
Whether you believe the historic tales associated with this bridge or not, there is a certain mystique that you can definitely appreciate. This is a beautiful community attraction for Columbus Junction and it's the kind of place that you can spend 5 minutes (if you are strapped for time) or 5 hours if you have time to enjoy a picnic, a hike, the bridge, and the great outdoors.
If you are looking for something fun to do with your family yet this summer, a road trip to this famous bridge is not a bad way to spend part of a day.
As always, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Louisa County or any of the other 98 counties in Iowa. If you have a good idea or would like to host the Iowa Adventurer, please drop me a note through this site.