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Mills County Bridge Renovations

SWINT recently launched a fundraising campaign for the Mills County Bridge Renovation project, an effort that has been years in the making. After 35 years, much of the infrastructure that the trail's founders built (or added to - since the substructures were built in the 1870s), such as the decking on the bridges, is showing its age.  For the safety and enjoyment of all our trail users, we have undertaken the massive task of prioritizing and re-decking all 70 of the bridges on the trail. 



In the fall of 2014, our work crew (L to R: Rusty Fithen, Tim Mathis, Terry Castle, & Ron Willeman) experimented with a recycled plastic lumber made in Iowa for the re-decking of the Keg Creek Bridge just north of Mineola (photo left).  This past spring, the lumber was also used to re-deck the former Children's Square/newly re-dedicated Jim Hannan Bridge south of Council Bluffs (photo below).  The lumber is resilient, easy to work with, and will likely outlast the bridges' substructures. 




Thanks to grants from the Wellmark Foundation, the Peter Kiewit Foundation, Loess Hills Missouri River Region (through the Mid-American Energy Foundation), the Mills County Community Foundation, and contributions from the Robert S. Holmes Family, two of the longest and most iconic bridges on the trail are scheduled to be re-decked this fall/winter.  Besides two of the longest, the Silver Creek Bridge (between Malvern and Silver City) and the West Nishnabotna Bridge (between Malvern and Imogene) are also the only two overhead truss bridges on the trail.  Along with the re-decking we are working with a local artist to illuminate the bridges, inspired by the success of the High Trestle Bridge in central Iowa.  Despite the generous grants that we have received, and the contributions that SWINT is making, we still have a fundraising goal of at least $35,000 to meet our budget.  We would be delighted if we exceed this amount, because that means that we can help re-deck even more bridges! 


We hope you can help us meet this goal!  If you are interested in learning more about large sponsorships that come with name recognition on the wings of the bridges, please email us at wabashtracenaturetrail@gmail.com.  You can contribute directly to this fundraising campaign online at https://givebutter.com/mills-bridges or by mailing a check to SWINT at PO Box 581, Shenandoah, IA 51601, and indicating that it is for the Mills County Bridge Renovation Project. Thank you!


Below, the "How it Started" picture features volunteers Terry Castle and Curt Altizer assessing the Silver Creek Bridge before any decking or railing was installed (late 1980s). "How it's Going" shows volunteers Grant Wiese, Bill Danforth, Terry Castle and Ron Willeman after they repaired the railing on the West Nishnabotna Bridge after a trespassing vehicle wrecked into the bridge (2021).



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