Brule Trail Bridge

Warren Deck Truss Bridge over Bois Brule River
Brule, Douglas County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Brule Trail Bridge
Built By Northern Pacific Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Douglas County
Length 223 Feet Total, 110 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Warren Deck Truss and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Fabricated 1895
Original Location Fallon Creek Bridge; Fallon, Montana
Date Erected 1921
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
NP Bridge Number 37
Significance Regional Significance
In 1885, the Northern Pacific Railroad built a track between Superior, Wisconsin and Ashland, Wisconsin.
The goal of the line was to connect to the Wisconsin Central tracks at Ashland, so a proposed merger between NP and WC could go through.
When NP went bankrupt in the 1890s, they stopped leasing the WC, and Wisconsin Central later found a merger partner in Soo Line.

The line was a branch line for Northern Pacific, who became part of Burlington Northern in 1970 after merging with Great Northern Railway, the main rival.
The line would be abandoned from Allouez to Ashland in 1985, and turned into a trail. On the Allouez side, it is the Osaugie Trail. From the outskirts of Allouez to Ashland, it is the Tri-County Corridor.
The very west end is still operated by BNSF Railway, which was the result of a 1996 merger between BN and Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad.

A rather unique deck truss, this bridge crosses the Bois Brule River near Brule, Wisconsin.
Erected here in 1921, this 110 foot Warren Deck Truss is referred to in a bridge book as a deck lattice girder. The Northern Pacific used a number of experimental lattice girder designs in the late 1890s, although they were quickly discontinued and relocated to branch lines between the 1910s and 1940s.
According to NP records, the bridge was originally fabricated in 1895 to cross Fallon Creek in Fallon, Montana on the Yellowstone Division mainline. The Fallon bridge was built of two spans, both which were relocated in 1921 after replacement.
One span ended up in Washington, although it is unknown what happened to it after that. The other span ended up at this location.
Officially, the bridge is a 7-panel, riveted Warren Deck Truss. This main span sits on concrete piers.
Wooden trestle spans approach the bridge on either side. It is unknown what the original bridge here was, although it is possible it was relocated to the west coast.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition. Northern Pacific often used different designs than was standard on railroads at the time, explaining the unusual appearance.

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unusual design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the trail it carries.


Source Type


Build Date Northern Pacific Bridge Book, provided by Northern Pacific Railway Historical Association
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

Widget is loading comments...

© Copyright 2010- John Marvig and Contributors. All Rights Reserved