The name of the bridge was changed to Louden Bridge in 2013, in honor of the Louden Machinery Company which was the inspiration for the art enhancements to the bridge.  This project was commissioned by the Jefferson County Trails Council, with support from an NEA Challenge America Grant. The artist collaborated with the project team for the design of the protective steel cage and interior enhancements.

This design was inspired by several historic structures, particularly the timber framework of locally designed and manufactured Louden barns. The old wooden railroad trestles and bridges of a bygone era were also sources of inspiration. The carefully thought out design gives rhythm and dynamism to the bridge, uses economical materials, and creates a distinctive architectural space while maintaining openness. The historic theme continues in the ceramic tiles that enhance the bridge’s interior. Ms. Bales and Fairfield High School art teacher Mark Shafer developed a curriculum for advanced art students to design and glaze 171 tiles, in sets of three, for the bridge’s concrete curb. The tiles depict details of Louden barn blueprints and Louden Machinery parts catalogs. The images range from livestock or barn overviews to fine details of mechanical parts that appear dramatically abstract. For more images see: BNSF Trail Bridge Community Involvement.

The bridge blends history and design in an elegant display of public art that is pleasing to the eye, functional, and educational. The bridge has been warmly received by the community and has remained free of vandalism.

  • Materials: Steel, ceramic tiles
  • 2005
  • Location: Fairfield Loop Trail, Fairfield, Iowa
  • Photos by the artist