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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Burlington Rail Bridge
BNSF RR Mississippi River Crossing At Burlington
Burlington, Iowa

Burlington RR Bridge

• Structure ID:  
• Location: River Mile 403.1.
• River Elevation: 518 Feet.
• Railroad: Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
• Daily Traffic Count: 30 Trains Per Day (Estimated).
• Bridge Type: Steel Through Truss w/Swing Span.
• Length: 2,230 Feet (Estimated), 362 Foot Swing Span.
• Width: 2 Tracks.
• Navigation Channel Width: 153 Feet, 2 Channels.
• Height Above Water: 22 Feet.
• Date Built: August 13, 1868, Rebuilt 1892.
This is the first all-metal bridge to cross the Mississippi River. Bridge was built in 1868 as a single track. It was rebuilt in 1892 with a new superstructure, widened to support 2 tracks, and two truss sections were replaced with deck girder spans. The bridge was strengthened once again in 1930 to accommodate ever heavier rail cars.

The railroad bridge at Burlington was built for the Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad for its Chicago to Denver route. The bridge is now owned and operated by the BNSF as a heavily used mainline. A US Coast Guard study found that this bridge was third among those that were struck most often by barges. It was hit 92 times between 1992 and 2001. As a result, BNSF is reported to be planning to replace the swing span with a lift bridge. This would vastly widen the navigation channel since you could use the full width of the former swing span instead of only one side of the center of the swing span.

Some of these photos were taken during a foggy, overcast, and rainy day spring day, while the rest were shot a few months later on a hot summer afternoon.


Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge
Burlington RR Bridge

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