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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)
Minnehaha Creek Railroad Crossing
Minnetonka, MN

BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 17.9.
• River Elevation: 911 Feet.
• Structure Type: Railroad Bridge.
• Construction: Concrete Girder.
• Length: 50 Feet (Estimated).
• Width: 1 Track, Abutments Built For 2 Tracks.
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet.
• Date Built: 2000s, Abutments Date To 1883.
The Wayzata Subdivision of Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Willmar covers 90 miles between Minneapolis and Willmar. The line crosses the Mississippi River on the Nicollet Island Railroad Bridge, then heads west passing just north Cedar Lake, around the top of Lake Minnetonka, then through the cities of Delano and Litchfield before arriving at a junction in Willmar. The line crosses the Minnehaha Creek twice at bridges set about a half-mile apart located between Hopkins Crossroad and Interstate highway I-494 in Minnetonka.

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. 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 looking north towards the BNSF Railroad Bridge from the abandoned roadbed of the Saint Paul & Pacific Railroad. This location can be found by parking at the canoe landing along Hopkins Crossroad just south of the creek, and then walking west along the creek bank. The photo below is another view from the same abandoned railroad roadbed.


BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)
BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)
These two photos are looking east across the bridge from the west side of the creek crossing. The photo above is taken from the unused side of the railroad line, while the photo below is a view from near the southwest corner of the structure. The bridge in the background is Hopkins Crossroad. The housing development is the Cedar Pointe townhomes.

BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)
BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)
These two photos are looking east along the north face of the bridge. The photo above is a view from track level, showing the abutment on the far side of the creek. The photo below is a view from a slightly higher vantage point, showing both the railroad tracks and looking down at the creek.

BNSF Railroad Bridge (East)

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