(This post is the first installment in a series about Timberhill history)
The biggest obstacle to building a house on our Decatur County property was building a 72-foot bridge across Brush Creek. The bridge designed by our engineer called for 44,094 lbs. structural steel including 36” and 21” I-beams, 6” channel hand rail and a 10” x 10” H-beam. The estimate for new steel parts was $19,700.00. That plus the cost to build the bridge were way more than we could afford. Then we found out that one of our Des Moines friends sold used bridge parts. Not only did he find the parts we needed but they were were located in Chariton, Iowa only 42 miles away. And they cost was less than one fifth the cost of new steel.
Presettlement Brush Creek which is just south of Pony Farm Road was little more than a trickle that could easily be crossed on foot or in a horse and buggy. But as the land became more settled and the US Army Corps of Engineers straightened and dredged the waterways the creek cut deeper and deeper. When we purchased our land in 1988 the only place to cross it was a low water crossing. And that was only possible when the water level was low. We soon learned that we would have to build a substantial bridge in order to reach our building site in the prairie above Pony Farm Rd.
On the south side of the creek the bridge had to be built into the side of a steep hill. So we ended up with a deep gap between the top of the bridge and the ground.
A local contractor filled the gap was filled with red clay soil from another site on our property. He packed the soil with heavy equipment, then completed the driveway up hill.
In April, 1993, we had a bridge across Brush Creek. Now we could drive to our building site.