A WPA era swinging bridge in Estherville spans the West Fork of the Des Moines River

August 26, 2019

On the west side of Estherville, just to the north of Highway 9, is a sprawling park that lies on the banks of the West Fork of the Des Moines River.

The park has a number of different amenities and a nicely paved trail that follows the path of the river.

You can even go under the railroad tracks.

 

However, the highlight is the historic swinging bridge that allows for a unique experience for pedestrians.

At the west end of the bridge is a nice plaque that gives a brief history of this local landmark. It was built in 1937 at the site of a former dam and labor was provided by Works Progress Administation (WPA) workers. The WPA was part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's "New Deal" program. 

As is noted in the last sentence, the bridge was updated in 2011 using Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) dollars.

There's a nice parking lot on the west side of the bridge. A few others were enjoying the park while I was there earlier this summer.

There's also a nice picnic table if you want to enjoy lunch nearby.  

The bridge itself is not more than a couple of feet wide and the flooring is wood.

The sides are metal chain link fence.

There is a system of different metal cables and connectors that support it - but also give it the "swinging" feel.

It's got some pretty significant anchors keeping it connected to either side of the river.

Earlier this year, I visited the swinging bridge in Iowa Falls that is older than this one. It is also only a pedestrian bridge but it offers significantly less "give" than this one. As I went across this particular bridge, you soon realized it really was a bridge with some "swing" to it.

I never felt unsafe on the bridge - it's perfectly fine to cross. It does offer some very nice views of the river, the park, the banks, and the nearby train trestle. 

Once you get to the other side, you will discover an identical plaque describing the bridge's history.

The other side of the bridge is less scenic, but you can find a view of the town's two water towers.

There's a lot more to see and do in Estherville and Emmet County but if you are just looking to check out the bridge, you probably can see it all in about 10 minutes. However, there's a lot of other parks and trails nearby and so you could also just as easily spend several hours or a full day enjoying the abundance of northern Iowa natural beauty.

 

I look forward to getting back to the area again soon. That said, I welcome your suggestions of places to visit and profile whether in Emmet 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 website.

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