The Great Northern Railroad built this railroad line along Highway 2 in
the 1890s. The line opened for traffic on September 25, 1898. At the
time, a wooden trestle was built over the Mississippi River. Wood
posts from that trestle are still visible in the water.
The trestle was replaced with a new bridge in 1908. This bridge featured
the concrete piers, two truss spans, and a swing span. Note the large
octagonal pier in a photo below where the swing span once pivoted.
The current bridge was built in 1967. River traffic was no longer
an issue, so the swing span was removed, as were the truss spans.
The piers were raised 5 feet, and the deck plate bridge spans were installed.
This new bridge would allow much heavier rail traffic to cross the
river. That was short lived, however, as the demand for rail
service tailed off in northern Minnesota in the 1970s.
This bridge is the third of five Mississippi River crossings where
the river is the boundary between Cass County and Itasca County.
The photo above is a view looking southwest towards the bridge. The
vantage point is standing on the US-2 highway bridge located adjacent
and just upriver from the railroad bridge.
The photo below is the main channel span. The large pier on the left is
the pivot point for the swing span. The bridge plate girders have a joint
above the smaller pier. Note the two different styles of bearings supporting
the girders on top of the smaller pier. Also note the cut off pilings that
are remains of an earlier trestle at this location.
These two photos are similar views photographed several years apart. The
photo above is from earlier in spring just after a high water period
has matted down the grass. The photo below is from later in spring after
the grass has had a chance to put on some growth.
The photo above is the main river channel span. The photo below is a
span located west of the main channel. This span is flooded due to high
water from the spring run-off.
The photo above is the east bridge abutment. The photo below is the west
These two photos are views of the eastern-most bridge pier. The photo
above is looking east at the south face of the bridge. The photo below
is looking southeast at the north face of the bridge. The swing span
is on the right side of the photo. Note the two different types of
metal supports attached to the pier.
These two photos are close views of the small wheels that support the
swing span. These wheels allow the bridge swing span to rotate. The
large metal block acts as a stop to help align the bridge when it is
closed, and it supports the weight of passing trains.
These two photos are views of the swing bridge drive mechanism. The large
ring gear is attached to the pier, while the smaller gear is attached to
a shaft. When the shaft is rotated, the bridge would pivot on its center