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Current view of Alden Bridge
Courtesy of the Hardin County Community Development Council

An earlier bridge that once crossed the Iowa River in Alden had long united the two sides of this small town. However, by the mid-1930s the existing wood structure had "long since seen its best day," according to the Alden Times. In 1935, the Hardin County government sought to replace both the Alden and Steamboat Rock bridges by securing financial assistance from the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In October, the WPA approved the two projects, which were a great boon to Alden's unemployed--used as day labor to help construct the new concrete bridge over the Iowa River. The estimated cost for the 150-foot-long structure at Alden was $20,000. A WPA grant funded $11,163 of the total, and Hardin County financed the reminder.

The Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) designed the Alden Bridge as a concrete rigid-frame structure, comprised of two spans supported by a concrete substructure. The selection of concrete as the construction material for several Depression-era, WPA-funded bridges was not coincidental. As described by the October 24, 1935, edition of the Alden Times: "The bridges will be of the concrete type with steel reinforcing, since this type provides more employment in building than all steel construction." The Weldon Brothers Construction Company of Iowa Falls won the construction contract, work began in January of 1936, and the bridge was completed that same year. To celebrate its completion, the town officially dedicated the bridge on July 4, 1936, in conjunction with Independence Day activities, with thousands of citizens in attendance.

Historic view of Alden Bridge
Courtesy of the Hardin County Community Development Council

The Alden Bridge was one of five concrete rigid-frame structures designed by ISHC. The concrete rigid-frame configuration, developed in Westchester County, New York, in the early 1930s, became especially popular for federal relief projects during the 1930s. Both picturesque and practical, the flat-arched design appealed to proponents of urban beautification. The ISHC, like many state highway departments, built a tentative number of rigid frames in the 1930s, of which Alden Bridge is a distinguished, early example.

The Alden Bridge is located on Main St. over the Iowa River, in Alden.

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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