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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Saint Louis River Rails-To-Trails Crossing
Cloquet, MN

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 36.4
• River Elevation: 1,179 Feet
• Trail: Riverfront Park Trail
• Daily Traffic Count: N/A
• Bridge Type: Steel Deck Plate Girder
• Bridge Length: 420 Feet (Estimated), 52 Foot Longest Span (Estimated)
• Bridge Width: 14 Feet
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet
• Date Built: Early 1950s
The Duluth & Northeastern was primarily a logging railroad. It was chartered in 1898 by the Potlatch Corporation, which ran the Potlatch Paper Mill in Cloquet. The railroad brought logs to the mill, hauled supplies back out to the logging camps, and handled common carrier freight as needed. The railroad once ran 58 miles to Hornby, MN, but in recent years, it ran only to Saginaw, MN, which is about 11 miles north of Cloquet. The D&NE interchanged with the DM&IR and CN at Saginaw.

The D&NE ceased operations around the year 2000. The track was abandoned and removed. Four miles of track remain in Cloquet. It is operated by the Cloquet Terminal Railroad, which switches cars between a few local factories and the BNSF mainline. The CTRR began operations on May 13, 2002, at which time the D&NE went out of existence. It was the last logging railroad to operate in the state.

There are two bridges formerly owned by the D&NE as part of the Saint Louis River crossing. This bridge is the upstream of the two bridges. It once carried trains from Dunlap Island and the D&NE yard over the north channel of the river and onto the D&NE mainline to Saginaw. The other bridge is at the east end of Dunlap Island, and is still in use by the CTRR.

The original Upper Dunlap Island Bridge was built in 1898 when the D&NE was constructed. That bridge was washed out in a spring flood in the early 1950s. The current bridge was built just slightly further downstream at a spot where the north river channel was a little narrower and the banks were more stable. The bridge was abandoned in 2002. It was later converted into a rails-to-trails bridge as part of the Cloquet Riverfront Park. The park features several walking trails, and a paved trail that connects to a DNR trail that follows the old D&NE roadbed north to highway US-2.

The photo above is looking west towards the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge from the sidewalk on the nearby MN-33 Bridge over the north channel of the Saint Louis River. Dunlap island is to the left, and the north bank of the river is on the right.


Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
The photo below is a closer view of the bridge from the same vantage point as the photo at the top of the page, which was taken from a sidewalk on the north span of the highway MN-33 bridge over the north channel of the Saint Louis River. The photo below is another view of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge from further south on the MN-33 bridge.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
These two photos are views looking west towards the downstream side of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge as seen from the water level. The photo above is a wider view, while the photo below is a closer view. The vantage point is a fishing pier located on the south bank of the north river channel.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
The photo above is looking northwest towards the east face of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge from the south bank of the north channel of the Saint Louis River. The photo below is looking northwest across the river channel from the south end of the bridge. The older railroad bridge at this location once crossed the river just upstream of this bridge.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
These two photos are looking north along the east face of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge. The photo above is a view from just downstream of the structure, while the photo below is looking across the river channel along the east edge of the structure.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
The photo above is a view of the south bridge abutment and the first bridge span. The photo below is looking towards the bridge abutment from the edge of the waterline.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
These two photos are looking north down the center of the bridge deck. The photo above is from the trail leading to the south end of the bridge, while the photo below is a view after walking out onto the deck of the bridge.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
The photo above is looking beyond the north end of the bridge deck down the trail leading north from the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge. The photo below is a close view of the bridge section over the riverfront trail. There is a stairway leading from the railroad grade down to the trail. Note that the deck boards are placed across the bridge rather than lengthwise on this last bridge span.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
The photo above is looking towards the east face of the final bridge span on the north end of the structure where the riverfront trail passes under the structure. The photo below is looking east towards the west side of the bridge where the trail passes under the bridge deck. I suspect that this final bridge span was added as part of the trail conversion, and the concrete is the actual abutment and the pre-conversion end of the bridge.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
These two photos are views looking south along the side of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge, looking into the bright midday sun. The photo above is looking along the upstream west face, while the photo below is looking along the downstream east face of the bridge.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
Upper Dunlap Island Bridge
These two photos are views looking southwest towards the east face of the Upper Dunlap Island Bridge from the north bank of the north channel of the Saint Louis River. The photo above is a wider view, while the photo below is a closer view. The US Gypsum plant is located in the background on the south bank of the river.

Upper Dunlap Island Bridge

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