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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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Stock certificate

DUNLEITH & DUBUQUE BRIDGE CO. The Keystone Bridge Company Carnegie founded in 1865 was one of several firms to bid for the construction of the DUNLEITH AND DUBUQUE BRIDGE. Carnegie, then thirty-five, also headed the Union Iron Mills that supplied the iron for his bridge company. Personally desiring the project, Carnegie traveled to Dubuque in 1867 to negotiate the contract himself and traveled across the frozen MISSISSIPPI RIVER on a sleigh pulled by four horses.

Finding a rival firm was to be awarded the contract, Carnegie convinced the railroad directors that a cast iron bridge, unlike one of wrought iron, would certainly break if struck by a steamboat. To his astonishment, Carnegie found his argument supported by Platt SMITH, a prominent Dubuque attorney, who had recently seen a cast iron lamp post smashed when struck by a buggy.

The Dunleith and Dubuque Bridge Company was established in 1867 with:

                   the general nature of the business being the building of a
                   railroad bridge and track from Dunleith to the track of the
                   Dubuque & Sioux City Railroad at Dubuque, and to maintain 
                   and operate a railroad over said Bridge and track.  (1)

In 1878 the Dunleith & Dubuque Bridge Company served notice on the City of Dubuque that it would appeal its tax assessment to the circuit court. The city assessor established the value for taxation at $450,000, but the equalization committee raised the value to $600,000. (2)

The Dubuque Herald found the basis for the appeal amazing. The valuation, according to the newspaper, was only about half of the value of the company. The amount of capital stock in the company was then $1,200,000 with a bonded indebtedness of $380,000 so the nominal value of the bridge property was $1,580,000. The value of the stock had fallen to sixty cents which would make the adjusted value of the stock worth $720,000. With the indebtedness the value of the property would be $1,100,000. This valuation did not include the value of the bridge itself, the bridge over the slough, railroad track to Jones Street, value of the franchise, right-of-way through the city which had been granted by the council, or the contract with the ILLINOIS CENTRAL RAILROAD which annually earned them ten percent of the total cash value for which they were assessed. (3)

When the case was taken to the district court, the judge dismissed the company's appeal saying he had no jurisdiction in the matter. (4)

The issue was finally resolved in September 1879. The company paid the expenses of both parties for taking the case to court and wrote a check to the city for $5,125.00. As a result, the city lost $1,686.11. (5)

In 1880 the tax issue was again taken to court. The bridge was assessed by Dubuque County at a value of $200,000. The company felt this was excessive because part of the bridge lay in Jo Daviess County. The company did not feel it was right that it should be taxed twice on that section. The company believed that 500 feet laying in Illinois should be deducted from the Dubuque County taxes. Judge Lacy's decision agreed with the company. The decision had two important consequences. First, it reduced the assessment on the bridge for Dubuque County from $200,000 to $133,333. Secondly it resulted in the boundary line of the county being moved 500 feet west of the present point claimed by Dubuque County. (6)

The 1911-12 Dubuque City Directory through the 1916-1917 White's Dubuque County Directory gave this business address as 601 BANK AND INSURANCE BUILDING.

The 1918 Dubuque and East Dubuque City Directory listed 603 Bank and Insurance Building.

See: Roswell B. MASON



1. Notice of the Formation of The Dunleith & Dubuque Bridge Company," The Herald, September 25, 1867, p. 4

2. "The Bridge Assessment," Dubuque Herald, December 27, 1878, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18781227&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

3. Ibid.

4. "Circuit Court," Dubuque Herald, February 2, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790202&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

5. "Settled With the Bridge Company," Dubuque Herald, September 21, 1879, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18790921&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

6. "The Bridge Controversy," Dubuque Herald, July 1, 1880, p. 4. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=uh8FjILnQOkC&dat=18800701&printsec=frontpage&hl=en