The Columbus Junction Swinging Bridge is a suspension bridge just like the Golden Gate. Rural swinging bridges were inexpensive to build, easily made from local materials, and a fun challenge for builders. The engineering is simple no matter what the length: anchor cables to foundations on both ends, raise the cables to the desired height, then add decking and sides. Suspension bridges are light, flexible and strong. The longest suspension bridge in the world is the Akaski Kaikyo Bridge in Japan measuring 12,828 feet.
Animals Love It! Columbus Junction cats and dogs are frequently seen walking on the bridge and seem to appreciate the shortcut and unique view the same as their owners. Squirrels make use of it too. Local legend has it a wandering cow crossed the bridge in 1939 or 40. No photos exist of the errant bovine but she is featured in artwork at the Swinging Bridge Park.
Photo Ops The Swinging Bridge is a footbridge designed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The 2016 RAGBRAI route brought thousands of bike riders past the bridge and some of them out on it. Hundreds of riders enjoyed the option of having their photo taken on the bridge in exchange for a donation to the Swinging Bridge Fund.
The Columbus Junction Swinging Bridge is the backdrop to many great photos commemorating life’s special occasions including RAGBRAI, road trips, field trips, homecoming, prom, graduation, engagements, and weddings. Add your photo to the mix!
History Columbus Junction’s Swinging Bridge has been rebuilt many times over the years and now the shortcut to get downtown has become a beloved roadside attraction. In 1886 Mr. Josiah Stewart and friends erected the original Columbus Junction Swinging Bridge. Using barrel staves and wire they fashioned a shortcut over the ravine between Third to Fourth Streets. The second version of the bridge was a wooden version supported by stilts. This bridge was not supposed to swing but did and was closed in 1902 by the town council for safety reasons. The next version, opened in 1904, returned to the sturdier suspension bridge design and was the longest span to date at 160 feet. Good intentions aside, this was the first and only version of the bridge to have collapsed and there were people on it! In 1920 brothers Lew and Jesse Tisor were crossing the bridge when it fell. It is reported that both young men were still standing when they and the bridge reached the bottom of the ravine. Disaster averted it was time again to rebuild and money was quickly raised for a new bridge. This time an engineering professor from Iowa State University was hired to develop the plans. The 262-foot cable bridge with wooden planks that is still in use today was the result.
Tip: For the least swing walk alone, stay in the middle, and hold the cables with both hands.
Longest Swinging Footbridges
–United States: Bridge to Prosperity in Sevierville, Tennessee at 400 feet
–World: Charles Kuonen Suspension Bridge in Switzerland at 1,621 feet