BNSF Platte River Bridge (Ashland)

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over Platte River
Ashland, Saunders County, Nebraska
Near Gretna, Sarpy County, Nebraska

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name BNSF Platte River Bridge (Ashland)
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor (1901 Spans) Lassig Bridge & Iron Works of Chicago
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 1,390 Feet Total, 105 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder and Concrete Slab
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1901 using 1899 Spans, Rebuilt 1915
Traffic Count 15 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 44.86
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1871, the Omaha and South Western Railroad built a line from Oreapolis, Nebraska to Bellevue, Nebraska.
By 1885, an expansion would be made into Omaha. It would be quickly sold to the Omaha and North Platte Railroad.

The Omaha & North Platte desired to continue building west, reaching Ashland by 1888. They would continue north towards Fremont from that point.

The two railroads combined formed a loop, to allow Chicago, Burlington & Quincy trains to enter Omaha. The CB&Q mainline bypassed Omaha about 10 miles to the south.

The railroads became a full part of the CB&Q in 1908, which invested money to heavily rebuild the two.

The CB&Q continued operations of this route until 1970, when they merged with Great Northern and Northern Pacific to form Burlington Northern.

By 1996, the BN merged with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, the current owner of this line. It is currently known as the Omaha Subdivision.

With the Platte River being such a wide and shallow stream, railroads building across it required long bridges that could be built with small span lengths.
The first bridge here was built in 1885, and contained six Howe Trusses, along with several thousand feet of trestling.
A new bridge would be built with 28 deck girder spans fabricated in 1899, but installed in 1901. This new bridge rested on timber piers, protected by cribbing.
In 1912, washouts to this bridge undermined several timber piers, requiring the complete reconstruction of the bridge.
It took until 1915 for construction on a permanent solution to begin. It was first noted that the Platte River main channels tended to be closer to the banks, forming two main channels.
As a response, new the bridge would get three new spans at each end of the river, and 13 deck girders would be salvaged from the old bridge.
The process resulted in the shifting of the bridge by 14 feet upstream of the old bridge. It took between 20 and 45 minutes for a derrick to move each span to the new bridge.
The whole process took under 34 hours. More about this project can be read at here. The remaining 15 spans likely were relocated to other points around the CB&Q system.
What makes the bridge unique is the shape of the piers. The round piers are less susceptible to scour and flooding damage.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition. In addition to the 19 deck girder spans, concrete slab spans were also constructed at each end.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the engineering of the structure.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from US-6, which runs parallel.

Platte River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Valley Rail Bridge
Downstream Rock Island Platte River Bridge


Source Type


Build Date (Larger Spans) Engineering News, Volume 74
Build Date (Smaller Spans) Lassig Bridge & Iron Works plaque
Fabrication Date (Smaller Spans) Engineering News, Volume 74
Contractor (Smaller Spans) Lassig Bridge & Iron Works plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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