Soo Line Bridge at Blanchard

Warren Deck Truss Bridge over Mississippi River
Near Royalton, Morrison County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Soo Line Bridge at Blanchard
Built By Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway
Contractor Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company of Minneapolis
Currently Owned By Minnesota DNR
Length 641 Feet Total, 130 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 50 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Warren Deck Truss
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1908
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1909, the Soo Line built from their existing line at Brooten and built north towards Lake Superior. The line charted crossed the Mississippi River near Royalton. The line ended up at Duluth.
The line was critical to haul grain north out of Western Minnesota.
This line never saw much traffic after the 1980ís. The line could be considered critical in 1920, but not in 1980.

By 1990, 5 years before the acquisition by Canadian Pacific, this route was shut down. The route sat abandoned while the counties and the state discussed the future of it. Finally in 1993, it was acquired by the state and the demolition could commence. The rails and ties were removed, and the bridges were left in place.
Trail work began in the late 1990ís at Duluth, building southward. By 2006 it was completed to Albany, about 20 miles Northeast of Brooten. But a major gap existed in the trail in the Mississippi River Bridge at Royalton. It was decked early 2007 and was put into use as a trail.
Today, the line continues to exist of a trail. The trail is over 150 miles long. The most of it from Duluth until Highway 10, near Royalton is a gravel ATV trail. The other portion is a spur of the Lake Wobegon Trail System, which extends to Osakis.
An additional section of trail between Elrosa and Greenfield was developed in 2013. The remainder of the route will soon be developed as a trail.

Located in rural Morrison County several miles from Royalton, this large deck truss bridge crosses the Mississippi River.
Built in 1908 during construction of the route, the bridge consists of five large 5-panel, riveted Warren Deck Trusses. These trusses follow a standard Soo Line design. The entire bridge rests on concrete substructures.
When the Soo Line was abandoned through this area, the route was purchased for future trail development. This bridge was one of the last gaps in the trail between Albany and Moose Lake. However, this bridge was converted to trail use in 2007.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. With proper maintenance, this significant structure should be maintained for years to come.

The author has ranked the bridge as being moderately significant, due to the truss design. This design is common of Soo Line structures.
The photo above is an overview from the south bank. The bridge is easily accessed from a driveway from County Road 224 on the south/west side of the bridge, or from 68th Street on the north/east side.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Little Falls Railroad Bridge (S)
Downstream BNSF Mississippi River Bridge (St. Cloud)


Source Type


Build Date (Authorization for Construction) Report of the Chief of Engineers U.S. Army
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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