The main BNSF Railroad river crossing at Little Falls is located just south of
the city, where it crosses the river on a diagonal from southeast to northwest.
It is part of the very heavily used BNSF mainline from Minneapolis to points
west. The route follows US-10 west of the Twin Cities, crosses the river at
Little Falls, then heads towards Staples, where it joins the Duluth to Fargo
Little Falls exists because of the railroad. It was founded in 1871
by the Northern Pacific Railroad. The first river crossing at this
location was a ferry started in 1868. A wood trestle was built in 1877
by the NP. It was replaced in with a wooden through truss bridge, which
was later replaced by a plate deck girder bridge. That bridge was
replaced by the current pre-stressed concrete girder bridge.
The photo above is the south face of the rail bridge as seen from the
highway that runs along the west side of the river. The photo below is
a similar view from two blocks further downriver. The photo at the
top of the page is the south face of the rail bridge as seen from the
water level just south of the structure.
These two views are looking west across the Mississippi River from Maple
Island Park just south of the downtown business area. This seen shows a
pair of BNSF locomotives crossing the bridge northbound pulling a mile long
train loaded with double-stack containers. These locomotives are General
Electric C44-9W units that develop 4,400 horse power each. The lead unit
is #5346, which went into service in May, 2001, while the second unit is
#4960, which went into service in November, 1998.
The photo above is the north face of the BNSF railroad bridge looking
east across the Mississippi River. The photo below is looking southeast
down the rail line towards the river bridge. The river is just beyond the
trees on either side of the track. The tanks in the background is part
of the Little Falls city wastewater treatment plant, and are located on
the far side of the river.