Keystone Bridge Live Cam

A historic structure situated in Elkader, Iowa

Hosted by:
  • City Hall
  • 207 N Main St - Elkader
  • Iowa 52043 United States
  • 563-245-2098


The Elkader Keystone Bridge, also known as the Keystone Bridge or simply the Elkader Bridge, is a historic bridge located in Elkader, Iowa, United States. It is one of the longest and oldest bridges of its kind in Iowa and has been recognized for its architectural and engineering significance. Here is a brief history of the Elkader Keystone Bridge:

Construction and Design:The Elkader Keystone Bridge was constructed between 1899 and 1901. It was designed by a prominent engineer named James Barney Marsh and built by the company of H. W. Sebastian. The bridge was constructed using the pin-connected Pratt through truss design, which was a popular choice for bridges during that era. The truss design allowed for a sturdy structure capable of spanning long distances.

Purpose and Importance:The Elkader Keystone Bridge was built to provide a transportation route across the Turkey River, connecting the town of Elkader to the surrounding areas. It played a crucial role in facilitating commerce, transportation, and communication in the region. The bridge allowed for easier access to markets, schools, churches, and other essential services for the residents of Elkader.

Keystone Moniker:The bridge derives its name from the keystone-shaped portals on each end. A keystone is a central, wedge-shaped stone that holds an arch in place. Although the Elkader Keystone Bridge is not an arch bridge, the decorative portals were designed to resemble keystones, giving the bridge its unique name.

Historical Significance:The Elkader Keystone Bridge holds significant historical value for the community and the state of Iowa. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a prestigious recognition for structures of historical and architectural significance. The bridge is also one of the longest multiple-span truss bridges in Iowa, measuring approximately 1,150 feet (350 meters) in length.

Restoration and Preservation:Over the years, the Elkader Keystone Bridge has undergone several restoration and preservation efforts to ensure its longevity. The bridge has been strengthened, repaired, and repainted to maintain its structural integrity and historical charm. These restoration projects have been carried out by dedicated individuals, organizations, and the local community who recognize the importance of preserving this iconic landmark.

Historical Facts

  • Construction Innovations: The Elkader Keystone Bridge was a pioneering engineering project for its time. It was one of the first bridges in the United States to utilize steel eyebar chains for its main load-carrying members. This construction technique allowed for greater strength and durability, making the bridge an engineering marvel of its era.
  • Named after an Influential Figure: The Elkader Keystone Bridge was named in honor of Abd el-Kader, an influential Algerian Muslim leader who fought against French colonialism in the 19th century. Elkader, Iowa, where the bridge is located, was named after him in 1846. The choice of name for the bridge reflected the town's historical connection to this significant figure.
  • Longevity and Originality: The Elkader Keystone Bridge has stood the test of time. It has served as a vital river crossing for over a century, maintaining its original purpose since its completion in 1901. The bridge has retained its historic truss design and has not been significantly altered, making it a remarkable example of 19th-century bridge engineering.
  • Local Community Support: The preservation and maintenance of the Elkader Keystone Bridge have been largely driven by community efforts. The bridge holds a special place in the hearts of Elkader residents, and local organizations and individuals have been actively involved in fundraising and advocacy to ensure its preservation.
  • Tourist Attraction: The Elkader Keystone Bridge has become a popular tourist attraction in Elkader. Its picturesque setting, with the Turkey River flowing beneath it, and its architectural charm draw visitors from near and far. The bridge offers scenic views and photo opportunities, allowing people to appreciate its historical significance and the natural beauty of the surrounding area.
  • Historic Register Listing: In 1998, the Elkader Keystone Bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing its historical and architectural importance. This designation adds to its prestige and ensures that it will be protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.

These historical facts highlight the Elkader Keystone Bridge's significance as a symbol of engineering innovation, local pride, and a connection to the town's unique heritage.


The Elkader Keystone Bridge is located in the town of Elkader, which is in Clayton County, Iowa, United States. Elkader is situated in the northeastern part of the state, in the Driftless Area—a region characterized by its rugged terrain and lack of glacial activity.

The bridge spans the Turkey River, a tributary of the Mississippi River. The Turkey River flows through Clayton County, providing scenic beauty to the area. The Elkader Keystone Bridge serves as a critical crossing point over the river, connecting the town of Elkader with the surrounding countryside.

Elkader itself is nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by rolling hills and bluffs. The town is known for its natural beauty, with the Turkey River meandering through the landscape, and it serves as a gateway to outdoor recreational activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and wildlife viewing.

The Elkader Keystone Bridge's location within this scenic setting adds to its appeal as a tourist destination and allows visitors to appreciate both the historical significance of the bridge and the natural splendor of the surrounding area.

Turkey River

The Turkey River is a river in the state of Iowa, United States. Here are some key details about the Turkey River:

  • Location: The Turkey River is located entirely within the state of Iowa. It flows through northeastern Iowa, primarily in Clayton, Fayette, and Delaware counties. The river covers a total length of approximately 180 miles (290 kilometers).
  • Watershed: The Turkey River is part of the Upper Mississippi River Basin. It is a tributary of the Mississippi River, joining it near the city of Elkport, Iowa. The Turkey River watershed spans an area of around 1,200 square miles (3,100 square kilometers) and is characterized by fertile farmland, rolling hills, and wooded areas.
  • Scenic Beauty: The Turkey River is known for its scenic beauty and offers a picturesque landscape with its winding course, wooded valleys, limestone bluffs, and diverse wildlife. The river cuts through the unique Driftless Area, a region notable for its lack of glacial activity, which has resulted in rugged terrain and breathtaking vistas.
  • Recreation and Outdoor Activities: The Turkey River provides numerous opportunities for outdoor recreation. It is a popular destination for fishing, particularly for smallmouth bass, walleye, northern pike, and various species of trout. The river is also suitable for canoeing, kayaking, and tubing, with several access points along its course. Surrounding parks and natural areas offer hiking trails and camping options for visitors to enjoy.
  • Environmental Importance: The Turkey River and its watershed support a diverse array of plant and animal species. It provides habitat for various fish species, migratory birds, and mammals. Efforts have been made to protect and preserve the river's water quality and natural ecosystems, including riparian buffers and conservation programs to reduce soil erosion and nutrient runoff from agricultural lands.
  • Historical Significance: The Turkey River has played a significant role in the history of the region. Native American tribes, including the Meskwaki and Ho-Chunk (Winnebago), once inhabited the river valley. European settlers later utilized the river for transportation, trade, and powering mills. The river's name is said to originate from an event in which explorers encountered a large flock of wild turkeys along its banks.

The Turkey River offers a combination of natural beauty, recreational opportunities, and a rich historical heritage. It is a cherished resource for the communities and visitors who appreciate its scenic appeal and diverse ecosystems.