Iowa's Only Highway Tunnel

99 Counties | FIND Iowa
Mar 5, 2024 | 00:02:38

Why do you think Iowa has such few tunnels? 

Pammel State Park is the home of the only highway tunnel in Iowa.


Abby Brown:

Iowa is home to some pretty well-known bridges. But come with me and explore this hidden gem, where visitors go through a path that was once blocked by nature, instead of over it. The covered bridges of Madison County have been the setting for famous books, movies, and festivals. These bridges reach across streams and creeks so that people can get from one side to the other. Madison County offers another way to get around Mother Nature's creations: a tunnel. Near the town of Winterset, Pammel State Park is a beautiful area to hang out, play outside, and enjoy nature. Long ago, around the time Iowa first became a state, William Harmon and his sons dug a small tunnel through a tall area of rock so that water could pass through from the Middle River to a sawmill. Much later the tunnel was expanded to be big enough to allow cars to pass through. And today, it's big enough and strong enough for two cars to pass through. For safety, some cars honk their horns before going through to let anyone inside know they're coming. Because about half of the landscape in Iowa is pretty flat, a hill with a tunnel is a rare sight. But nature and all its beauty is quite common, especially at Pammel State Park, and this tunnel leads the way to some awesome views. You can also hike on a trail above the tunnel and see The Middle River. Building bridges and tunnels is just one way that people adapted their environments to get work done. Can you think of other ways that tunnels and bridges can make our lives easier?

Every county in Iowa has a story that could echo for generations. Thanks for exploring Madison County with me.