Bunker Mill Bridge Restored After Three Years of Work

Published: Mar. 19, 2016 at 3:08 PM CDT
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After more than three years of work, the Bunker Mill Bridge in Kalona is crossable for the first time since arsonists burned the bridge down in 2013. Community members, historical preservation advocates, and Amish woodworkers helped lay new planks to close the gap.

For the Scott family, whose ancestors first built the Bunker Mill, and arrived in the area before Iowa became a state, restoring the bridge is one way to continue the family’s legacy.

“This was their land, they had a mill and a dam – this was the mill bridge,” said Scott Allen, executive director of Friends of Bunker Mill Bridge. “It’s important to me and my family but I think everyone in the community has a bridge story.”

Stories like the ones his children still remember.

“My dad used to drive us out to the bridge, shut all the lights off, and he'd try to scare us and say the car died,” said Christian Allen, Scott’s son. “At the time we were young, and this was a creepy old bridge.”

Now, along with his siblings and friends, Christian feels a sense of responsibility to continue work on and around the bridge. Christian is currently studying renewable resources and hopes to install solar panels for an energy source and is also considering constructing a small museum and pond on the site.

Additionally, acoustic bluegrass concerts will happen on the bridge this summer, similar events served as fundraisers in 2015.

The group is also working on plans to make the bridge an alternate RAGBRAI route.

For Christian, the possibilities are endless, but the tradition will carry on.

“Dad and Julie always told me that me, my brothers and sisters and other friends would be the future of this place,” he said. “I want to keep telling the story of it. Keep the history going."