Sixth Avenue Bridge Collapse, 1965

Recent discussions of the country’s failing infrastructure might lead some long-time Des Moines residents to remember April 17, 1965, the day the Sixth Avenue bridge over the Des Moines River collapsed. Shortly after 3 P.M. that Saturday, three cars were on the bridge when the middle section, about 100 feet long and over half the width of the bridge, fell into the river.

All three drivers were able to turn around and get off the bridge safely, but telephone service was disrupted when an estimated 10,000 telephone customers lost service. Four temporary pay phones were installed, two at Second and Euclid and two at Sixth and Hickman, until phone service could be restored. The bridge had been buffeted by flood waters for about two weeks, leading to speculation that this was the cause of the collapse.

The city had previously scheduled repair work on this bridge and several others and subsequently rebuilt the Sixth Avenue, University Avenue, and Walnut Street bridges as well as the Seventh Street Viaduct. All four bridges reopened on Friday, October 14, 1966, after many months of
re-routing inconvenience for citizens.

Des Moines Sunday Register, April 18, 1965, page 1

Republished from the Des Moines Public Library website.

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