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A History of the Ames Avenue Bridge in North Omaha (c1890-1913)

This is a history of the Ames Avenue Bridge, which stood between the City of Omaha, Nebraska, and the City of Carter Lake, Iowa from circa 1890 to 1913.

Omaha Road Roundhouse, North Omaha, Nebraska
To the south of the Ames Avenue Bridge was Omaha Road roundhouse, built c. 1890 and demolished c. 1960. It was located north of Locust Street, south of Cornish Boulevard, and east of Carter Lake Drive.

As late at 1950, Ames Avenue continued due east from the Saratoga neighborhood straight down the hill to connect directly to Ames Avenue past North 16th Street instead of ending at Commercial Avenue. It stayed connected as it went east toward Carter Lake.

This is a 1930 aerial picture of the Saratoga neighborhood showing Ames Avenue connecting directly down the hill beyond the railroad tracks then to East Omaha.

Once upon a time there was a bridge between Ames Avenue in North Omaha and Ave R in Carter Lake, which was originally called Ames Avenue too. Built circa 1890 by the Illinois Central Railroad, it was a railroad bridge that carried cargo from points west across the lake and towards the East Omaha Factory District, and in the other direction, from the east to Saratoga, Florence, and all points north.

Carter Lake Bridge
This is the Illinois Central Bridge across Carter Lake. It used to span from Ames Avenue in Omaha across the fishing pier to the present-day Ave R in Carter Lake, and was destroyed by the 1913 Easter Sunday tornado.

After it was destroyed by the 1913 Easter Sunday tornado, the bridge was never rebuilt. In the mid-1930s, federal workers from the Carter Lake Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp demolished the rest of the bridge, which had been rotting in place for more than 20 years. They refurbished the western approach to the bridge as an earthen fishing pier and boat landing by adding cement block walls and planting a tree.

The original site of the Illinois Central Bridge across Carter Lake, the fishing pier and boat landing was refinished by the CCC in the 1930s.
The original site of the Illinois Central Bridge across Carter Lake, the fishing pier and boat landing was refinished by the CCC in the 1930s.

In the 1950s, the pier was refurbished again by a private investor to become the Carter Lake Pleasure Pier. There was a concession booth and dance floor built there, and with ample parking and the Carter Lake Kiddieland nearby it was a popular attraction for almost a decade.

Ames Avenue Bridge, Omaha, Nebraska
This is the approximate location of the Ames Avenue Bridge of the Illinois Central Railroad between Omaha, Nebraska, and Carter Lake, Iowa, traversing the Carter Lake.

Today, the original western approach to the Illinois Central Bridge across Carter Lake is still intact, and sometimes used for fishing. In Omaha, go to Ames Avenue and Carter Lake Shore Drive West, and then walk to the end of the pier. In Carter Lake, go to Wavecrest Park near Shoreline Drive, where there are no remnants. Neither side has a historic marker acknowledging the site.

Special thanks to Ryan Roenfeld for his contributions to this article.

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2 responses to “A History of the Ames Avenue Bridge in North Omaha (c1890-1913)”

  1. Amazing. I knew I had once read about rail tracks crossing the lake. I did not know, however, that the fishing pier was once one end of the bridge. Thank you for this article…

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  2. Afternoon. I never knew this. 😒 Interesting 🤔. My oldest son used to play in the area

    Like

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