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Soo Line Bridge at Blanchard

Deck Truss Bridge over Mississippi River
Rural Morrison County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Soo Line Bridge at Blanchard
Built By Soo Line
Contractor Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company
Currently Owned By Minnesota DNR
Length 605 Feet Total, 105 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 50 Feet (Estimated)
Type Warren Deck Truss
Date Built 1909
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
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, instead of having to haul grain to the ports at Duluth, so it could go through the Great Lakes.

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. It sat abandoned while the counties and the state argued over 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.

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, and that was 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, and is a very nice trail. The most of it from Duluth until Highway 10, near Royalton is a gravel, 4 wheeler trail. The other part is part of the Lake Wobegon Trail System, which that part serves as a branch line. The main trail uses a former Burlington Northern corridor from Osakis to St. Cloud.

In 2012, talks have begun of extending the trail to Brooten, although cost is a significant factor.

It is estimated that it would take almost $100,000 to fix up the bridge at Albany over I-94, the Lake Wobegon Trail and another road. In addition, almost $50,000 to fix up the bridge at New Munich over the Sauk River. The trail will be called the Dairyland Trail...
09/30/13


This bridge is one of the more impressive bridges in Central Minnesota.

Built 1909 for the Soo Line, as a spur route from Brooten to Duluth, it consists of 5 spans of 6 panel Warren Deck Truss with riveted connections, a span commonly used by the Soo Line between 1901 and 1915.
The Camden Place Rail Bridge, which is also a former Soo Line Bridge uses the same type of truss.

The bridge has massive wedge shaped concrete piers, which were used to break up ice before the dam was built in the 1930's.

Today the bridge is used as a trail, mainly with pedestrians and bicyclists.
The photo above is looking from the west bank, at the foot of the dam.

The last three photos credit of John Weeks.

Mississippi River Railroad Bridges

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


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