Melan Bridge

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E of Rock Rapids in Emma Sater Park, Rock Rapids, Iowa

Reinforced concrete arch bridge within Emma Sater Park near Rock Rapids, just off IA 9


File:Melan Arch Bridge.jpg

Photo taken by Joseph Allen

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One of the first reinforced concrete bridges built in the United States, it is located in Lyon County, 4-1/2 miles southeast of Rock Rapids, Iowa. It was built in 1893 by Frederick Von Emberger, famous Austrian designer, who was at that time the official representative of Joseph Melan, Vienese engineer. Melan was granted an American patent for his method of bridge reinforcement using concrete. The span is thirty feet. The rise of the arch is three feet and the roadway sixteen feet. The thickness of the arch at the crown is six inches. The reinforcing is of the style known as the Melan System and, in this case, consists of five 4" I-beams. The side walls are faced with Sioux Falls jasper. The hand rail is of gas pipe. The cement used was imported from Germany and cost $3.25 per barrel. The mixture of one part cement to two parts sand to four part broken jasper. The bridge cost $830.00. -- Historic American Engineering Record (HAER IA-15)

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on October 18, 1974
Reference number
Architectural style
Other architectural type; Melan design
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Current function
Pedestrian related
Period of significance
Significant years
1893; 1894

Update Log 

  • November 4, 2013: Photo imported by Dave King