BNSF Red Lake River Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Red Lake River
Crookston, Polk County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name BNSF Red Lake River Bridge
Built By Great Northern Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 185 Feet Total
Width 1 Track (Abutments Built for 2)
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss
Date Built 1906
Traffic Count 6 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 82.0
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1875, the Red River Valley Railroad Company built a line from Crookston to Fisher. The line was extended to Grand Forks by 1879, connecting the cities of Crookston and Grand Forks. The railroad quickly became part of the St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, which became part of the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba by 1882.

Then in 1888, the line was continued east from Crookston, through Erskine, to Fosston by the StPM&M.

At the same time, the Duluth and Winnipeg Railroad Company was building from Duluth to Deer River, on the other side of the state. The line was completed between the two cities, going through Sawn River and Grand Rapids in 1892. By 1900, the Eastern Railway Company of Minnesota opened the line between Deer River and Fosston, connecting Duluth to Grand Forks.

The new line was critical, as freight could be shipped from western minnesota to Duluth, and placed on barges heading towards Michigan or other areas of the country.

The line was extended further west of Grand Forks, and east of Duluth over time, but we are only focusing on this portion.

The line crossed the Mississippi River in Ball Club and Bemidji. New lines were constructed from Cass Lake to Sauk Centre, connecting to another mainline, as well as several lines into the Iron Range.

All the line became part of the Great Northern by 1907, who proceeded to operate the line until its demise in 1970, where it merged with the Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy to form the Burlington Northern.

The BN kept the line around as a mainline, and the Burlington Northern merged with the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe railroad in 1996 to form Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, now known as BNSF.

BNSF continues to operate the line as a mainline, seeing about 5 trains per day. It should remain around for a long time, as it remains a critical line.

This bridge was built in 1906 as a second span to an existing 1892 truss.
This bridge features an 8-Panel pin connected Pratt Through Truss. The 1892 truss was similar. The 1906 truss, which still exists features laced endposts.
These two bridges were completely different. One was built extremely heavy, and the other looked much lighter.
At some point, before 1939, the second bridge, which was the lighter one was removed, leaving an empty spot in the abutments and a single bridge.

These two bridges both rested on stone substructures.
Today, the best views are from downstream on the north bank. These during times of low water can provide unmatched views of the structure. An example of one of these views can be seen above.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the low amount of trusses in the region, as well as the historical integrity.
The photo above is an overview

Red Lake River Railroad Bridges

Upstream NP Red Lake River Bridge
Downstream Confluence with Red River of the North

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