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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Brookston Bridge
CSAH-31 Saint Louis River Highway Crossing
Brookston, MN

Brookston Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 69580
• Location: River Mile 53.0
• River Elevation: 1,212 Feet
• Highways: CSAH-31
• Daily Traffic Count: 405 (2003)
• Bridge Type: Prestressed Concrete Girder, Concrete Deck
• Bridge Length: 290 Feet, 95 Foot Longest Span
• Bridge Width: 32 Feet, 2 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 18 Feet
• Date Built: 1990
Brookston is a tiny town located on the Fond du Lac Indian Reservation a few miles north Cloquet. It exists mainly since it is the first spot where Great Northern trains running west on the transcontinental rail line had to stop for water. The Great Northern later built a small rail yard in Brookston for sorting local freight trains.

The CSAH-31 highway bridge dates back to 1990, when a previous river bridge was replaced with this modern prestressed concrete girder bridge. The bridge features a reinforced concrete deck, modern style guardrails, and large T-shaped piers. Beyond the modern design, there are no decorative features on the bridge.

From Floodwood down to Scanlon, the release of water from glacial lakes cut a very distinct river channel about 40 miles long and 50 feet deep. Given the size of the glacial lakes, the water flow could have cut the majority of this river channel in just a few weeks as the lakes drained. At Brookston, the glacial river ran into a ledge of stone that would not yield to the water flow. Whereas the glacial river channel was far wider than the Saint Louis River that we see today, at Brookston, the glacial river cut a very wide channel down 15 to 20 feet, and then a very narrow channel that was up at the 40 feet deep. That deep channel eventually filled up with gravel and silt, resulting in the geography that we see in the modern era.

The photo above is looking east towards the upriver west side of the Brookston Bridge. This photo was taken at noon, so the bridge shadow is directly under the structure with neither side of the bridge being lit up. The photo below is a closer view of the river channel. It appears that some debris has built up along the upstream side of this bridge pier.

Brookston Bridge
Brookston Bridge
The photo above is looking northeast across the bridge deck from near the southwest corner of the structure. The photo below is looking directly north down the center of the bridge deck.

Brookston Bridge
Brookston Bridge
The photo above is looking north along the upriver west face of the Brookston Bridge. From this vantage point, the debris pile in front of the bridge pier looks like it could be a beaver lodge. The photo below is the bridge plate.

Brookston Bridge

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