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City of Cedar Rapids Smokestack Bridge


Resting in the Cedar River are portions of an abandoned 150 year old railroad bridge. While half of the structure body was taken by the 2008 flood, solid pier legs remain over the entire span of the River.

Like the neighborhoods surrounding it, the bridge has a rich history. It was constructed in 1865 by prominent Cedar Rapids individuals including Stephen L. Dows, John F. Ely and Charles J. Ives. During its early life the bridge also served as a walkway for Sinclair Packing Company workers, who lived just across the Cedar River.


After more than a year of garnering broad community support, the Smokestack Bridge project is moving from dream to reality in a participatory design phase. Shive Hattery & HNTB have been charged by the design group with developing an extraordinary yet not extravagant people connection over the river. A design that blends the functional needs, the rich historical cultural heritage and the WOW factor such a bridge can bring to a community.


Today this bridge holds enormous promise as the great connector of trails, neighborhoods, people and recreational opportunities. It eliminates one of the few remaining pinch points in a trail system that transports riders, walkers and runners from Ely to Cedar Falls. When the Hoover Trail portion is completed south to Iowa City, this connection point will yield 89 continuous miles through the beauty and culture of eastern Iowa and its communities.

Within the adjacent neighborhoods, the Smokestack Bridge will encourage meandering through Czech Village, New Bohemia and Oakhill Jackson in a loop that includes the historic 16th Avenue Bridge of Lions. Exciting recreational possibilities are planned for what is now known as Mount Trashmore, the bridge will connect Mount Trashmore with the expansive green space of the former Sinclair Packinghouse site on the other side of the river.

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