In November of 1909, a board of directors decided to end a year long dispute with a county and citizen’s group from Incline and give in to their proposal of a wagon truss bridge stretching across the Des Moines river. Though they might not have realized it at the time, the bridge that they constructed in 1911 would stand for over a hundred years and be a second home as well as a place to get away for thousands of people in the coming years.
In the very beginning of the bridge’s life, the river was low and horses would trudge across to make way from Boone to Ogden or vise versa. In the 1950’s and 60’s, the place had become a popular area to go fishing, swimming, tubing, or to have bonfires during the summer.
As time went on, the river rose as nature took its course and made the bridge weak. In 2008, floods scattered Iowans while damaging the bridge, thus making county officials render it as unsafe for all vehicles. By the fall of 2008, all vehicular traffic going across the bridge had been denied, however pedestrian crossing was still an option.
Within the two years following, a large tree fell on the bridge damaging it once more. After this incident, the bridge had been downgraded once again, this time from allowing pedestrians only to a “No Trespassing” zone.
By this time, the Boone Wagon Wheel bridge had begun to show its age and to this day is continuing to weaken. On August 2, 2015, a part of the east side of the bridge became engulfed in flames, destroying the side of the bridge that had originally connected to Boone.
On Monday, Feb. 22, large chunks of ice shifted in the river, thus mangling the bridge and disfiguring it a final time. County officials decided after the fire in August that the bridge would have to be taken down in the fall of 2016, while the water level is the lowest. However, because of the newer destruction of the bridge, it is believed that a sooner date may be necessary for deconstruction.
“I've spent years there, when I was in high school we'd go fishing out there all the time, as I got older there were bonfires and parties. It's a beautiful place to go stargaze, especially during meteor showers. I've done that several times. It’s very peaceful. I'm going to miss that place.” Boone citizen, Jayme Schnaffer says.
Following the fire, support from Boone county citizens came from everywhere. From 80 year olds to high schoolers, nobody wants one of Boone’s most historic landmarks to be taken down. After a facebook page dedicated to saving the bridge was made, a quick thousand people liked the page. As of March 3rd, the page had 1,752 people following and supporting the bridge and its important history.