The Wayzata Subdivision dates back to the Minnesota & Pacific Railroad, which was chartered in 1857. The charter was assigned to the Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad in 1862, which reached Lake Minnetonka in 1867. The “Minnetonka Cutoff”, following the current route, was opened in 1883. The Saint Paul & Pacific evolved into the Great Northern in 1890, which merged with the Northern Pacific and Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy in 1970 to become the Burlington Northern. A later merger with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad resulted in the BNSF, the current owners of this line.
The two bridges over the Minnehaha Creek are nearly identical concrete girder bridges, each about 50 feet long. The abutments appear to date back to the original bridges at this location, which were built in 1883. A circa-2000 watercolor by Victor Gilbertson shows this as a steel bridge, but my fall 2009 visit found concrete girders. That dates the current span to sometime in the decade of the 2000s.
The Wayzata Subdivision was built as a double-track mainline. It has operated as a single track line since at least 1991 based on an aerial photograph of the western suburbs. As a result, the current bridges carry only a single track over the creek. As of 2007, traffic levels were about 10 trains a day moving at up to 40 miles per hour.
The photo above is a view looking north towards the BNSF Railroad bridge from a trail located in the Big Willow Park. The creek channel enters the scene in front of the bridge from the left, crosses under the rail bridge, then heads back to the left behind the bridge.