Pocahontas County, Iowa, Pre-1900 Keystone Bridge: 1968, 1981 and 2004


In 1968 my mother (Marion Gunderson) painted, while on location, this Keystone Bridge watercolor. At that time the bridge was one mile west, one mile south, and another quarter mile west of Gilmore City, Iowa. In 1981 the bridge was moved about eight miles south to its current location of Coopers Cove County Park in Pocahontas County, Iowa. In Mother’s and Daddy’s 1992 oral history, Mother said about this Keystone Bridge painting, “I guess one of the best paintings I ever did was of the keystone bridge down by Gilmore City. … When I was painting the keystone bridge, I was sitting on a folding chair and fell down the hill!” (Click on image to enlarge.)



In my most recent post, I included the 1968 Rolfe, Iowa, school yearbook paired with Mother’s (Marion Gunderson) watercolors from that same year. One of those watercolors (above) is of a keystone bridge when it was located southwest of Gilmore City, Iowa. In 1981 that bridge was moved about eight miles to its current Pocahontas County, Iowa, location at Coopers Cove County Park*.

An explanation regarding how the Romans relied upon a keystone in bridge design is here.

This next image** gives an explanation regarding the Iowa bridge in Mother’s watercolor.


Click twice on this image to magnify the text and photos.


The following image is from the November 17, 1980, issue of The Rolfe Arrow. It includes an editorial about the bridge preservation project. The last paragraph refers to “the father of Ed Shelgren” helping to build the bridge prior to 1900. I believe Ed’s father was the grandfather of Nancy (Shelgren) Martin.


On this Rolfe Arrow November 27, 1980, page, the “History Was Made” editorial provides color commentary regarding discussion prior to the moving of the keystone bridge. (Click twice on the image to magnify text.)



Included in the thumbnail images below are photos of the bridge at its current location. The photos were taken by my sister, Peggy, in June of 2004.

Click on any of the thumbnail images to enlarge them and/or to see the images in slideshow view.



* * * * * * * *

The banner across the top of the Rolfe Public Library’s web site shows another Pocahontas County bridge that I believe is a keystone bridge. It is on the east edge of Rolfe and is visible from Clinton-Garfield Cemetery.

*Features of Coopers Cove County Park are listed here.

**Page 119 of Pocahontas County, Iowa History, compiled in 1981 by the Pocahontas County Historical Society Members and Friends

(Click here to go to Louise Gunderson Shimon’s blog’s home page.)


2 Responses to “Pocahontas County, Iowa, Pre-1900 Keystone Bridge: 1968, 1981 and 2004”

  1. Peg Says:

    Only have a moment here, but . . . oh! I’m loving revisiting the feeling of being there that day with Daddy! And hearing all his explanations of keystone bridges and all. He was an amazing sport that day! ❤

  2. Marti Gunderson Carlson Says:

    I love this painting of Mother’s and the photos of Daddy – and the history lesson. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: