This bridge was built in 1913 by the Chicago Great Western
Railway. The CGW later became part of the Chicago & Northwestern,
which is now part of the Union Pacific. As a result, some folks refer
to this bridge as the C&NW Lift Bridge or the Saint Paul Union Pacific
Lift Bridge. The names can be confusing since there are other major river
bridges operated by these railroads.
In 1925, the north end of the bridge was raised 16 feet to tie in
with the rail lines that served the Saint Paul Union Depot. In 1926,
the Robert Street Bridge was built, a project made much more difficult
since it had to accommodate rail traffic from the lift bridge. In the
first decade of the 21st century, this is one of three operating lift
bridges on the Mississippi River. The other two are located at Hastings,
Minnesota, and Hannibal, Missouri.
This is a great spot to watch trains. The best spot is a river
overlook on the south side of the river. You can get very close
to the trains, and still be a safe distance away and remain in a
legal spot. Another place to watch is from the deck of the Robert
Street Bridge on the north side of the river. There are a lot of
trains in this area. Nearly all the trains coming in from the east
and from along the Mississippi River flow through the area between
the river and Dayton's Bluff. A large wye track sends over half of
the traffic to the north to head towards Energy Park, while the
remaining traffic comes though lower Saint Paul, either headed towards
the Omaha Bridge, the Short Line Bridge, or across the Great Western
The photo above is a view from Kellogg Avenue in Saint Paul. This
spot features an elevation about 100 feet above the river level, which
results in a sweeping vista of the river and the river flats area
south of downtown. The photo below is a view looking east from high over
the river from the stairway structure on the Wabasha Street Bridge.
These two photos show two views of the Great Western bridge from the
south bank of the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, Minnesota. The photo
above is a view from the river walk between the Great Western bridge
and the Robert Street bridge. The photo below is a view looking directly
through the lift span. Note how the bridge lines up both horizontally
and vertically with the Robert Street bridge.
These two photos show a pair of Union Pacific locomotives crossing the
Mississippi River on the Great Western bridge. The photo above is a
wide angle shot, while the photo below is a close view of the lift span.
The photo above shows the two locomotives heading west across the trestle
spans of the Great Western bridge. In the photo above, the locomotives
are about halfway across the trestle. In the photo below, the lead engine
is nearing the end of the bridge. Cab number 3198 is a General Motors
EMD model SD40-2 locomotive. It is a diesel-electric locomotive that
is able to generate 3,000 horsepower. This unit is an early SD40-2,
which was built in late 1972. Nearly 4,000 SD40-2 were built between
1972 and 1986.
One does not need to wait long for the next train to cross the Great
Western bridge, as shown in these two photos. The photo above shows
the lead locomotive just emerging from the lift span. The photo below
shows this train having two large locomotives and a train consisting
of at least a number of refrigerated box cars.