The Horn’s Ferry Bridge was built in the early 1880s for a tidy sum of $17,787.52. This was the first bridge to cross the Des Moines River in Marion County. As well as being historically significant in terms of allowing commerce between Pella and Knoxville, the construction of the bridge was also technologically significant for its time.
After 101 years of service, in 1982, the bridge was closed to vehicular traffic but remained open to pedestrians and bicyclists.
In the middle of the night August 31, 1991, one of the stone piers collapsed. In a long, loud, agonizing groan, 300 feet of the bridge folded into the river. The remainder of the bridge is maintained as an observation vantage point—an eagle watcher’s dream!
Prior to the bridge, a ferry was operated at this location by Elias Horn who came to Iowa in 1869. Horn bought a small plot of land on the south side of the river. He then obtained a license to operate a ferry. His flat-bottomed ferry boat carried cattle (5¢/head), teams of horses and wagons (25¢), sheep and hogs (3¢/head), and household goods. Thus, the name Horn’s Ferry Bridge.
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