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Rail Cars Cleared From Floyd River After Sunday Train Derailment

Courtesy of Sioux County Sheriffs Office
After the rail cars have been cleared from the scene of a train derailment, crews are working to rebuild the collapsed bridge.

Crews are working to rebuild a collapsed bridge in northwest Iowa after nearly 40 rail cars derailed and more than a dozen fell into the Floyd River.

Union Pacific Railroad says all cars – an estimated 20 – have been removed from the Floyd River near Alton as of Thursday. Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs says it was hard to tell how many cars had actually fallen into the river, because some were found broken in multiple pieces.


“It was pretty extensive damage done to some of the rail cars that derailed,” Jacobs said.


Jacobs said Union Pacific crews and contractors are building a makeshift road to make it easier to reach and repair the bridge.

“Once that’s done, they’ll start the bridge work,” Jacobs said. “They have a couple cranes out there on site to assist with the work and all the equipment and personnel necessary to get that done.”


The bridge over the Floyd River collapsed after the train’s front locomotives made it across, Jacobs said.

“So it wasn’t collapsed before the train went over it,” Jacobs said. “That occurred kind of because of the weight of the train.”

Once they rebuild the bridge, they'll work on repairing the track structure.

During the weekend of the derailment, the National Weather Service in Sioux Falls reported heavy rain and flooding, as the Floyd River crested to a new record high level of 22 feet. Meteorologist Jeff Chapman said Friday the river dropped below flood stage on the evening of Sept. 23.


As of Friday, the river is sitting at 8.4 feet.


Jacobs says flooding was a factor in the derailment. Union Pacific is still looking into whether other factors were in play.


The Sioux County Sheriff's Office took drone footage on Tuesday, Sept. 25, showing some of the work being done to clean up the site.

Katie Peikes was a reporter for Iowa Public Radio from 2018 to 2023. She joined IPR as its first-ever Western Iowa reporter, and then served as the agricultural reporter.