In 1871, the Hastings & Dakota Railroad charted a line from Hastings Minnesota to Cologne Minnesota.
It featured a Wooden Swing Bridge at Chaska, and a large trestle at Carver. The swing bridge had 3
piers. It had 2 small 100' Stationary Spans, with a 200' main span. It first opened October 1871. The
line saw freight trains, 3 in each direction. It also saw a Passenger Train in Each direction. Along with
that, an express train in each direction. In 1876, the H&D built a line from Minneapolis to Cologne.
These 2 lines merged in Cologne. A major flood in 1880 caused the swing bridge to deteriorate. It was
corrected. In 1880, the bridge caught fire from a passing engine. It was put out quickly. Also in 1880,
the H&D was bought by the Milwaukee Road. In 1890, the swing bridge deteriorated so bad it was
removed and replaced by another, only the new one was steel. It featured 100' girder spans as
stationary spans. In 1900, after deteriorating, it was replaced. Only this bridge had 2 piers. One pier
was removed. A 127' stationary truss Span was put in place. A 250' Pratt Truss Swing Span was
put in Place. In 1905, the truss span was updated. It was replaced by a 127'
Pratt Truss Span. Not only this, but the north abutment had a new cement part added to accommodate
this new span. Not surprisingly, a sugar factory was built in Chaska, which took in Sugar Beets from the
west and processed them. They were then shipped east, or also to Shakopee. After WWII, traffic
dropped to only sugar beet traffic, and local traffic. In case you are wondering, the line was extended to
the West Coast around 1913. In 1965, a bridge over County 40 was destroyed when a plow train
derailed. There were 6 injured, and the engineer suffered a broken neck. The bridge was rebuilt, but in
1971, the EPA ordered the Sugar Factory not to process sugar beets. The line was then abandoned. In
1978, the DNR paid $48,000 for the line from Chaska to Shakopee. The carver Trestle was then
demolished. There were 3 bridges along the line that were converted for trail use. In 1991, the East
abutment began shifting on the main bridge. It was corrected. But then in August 1996, the main swing pier began
sinking. The bridge was taken down at 2:25 PM CST on August 22nd. The construction for a new bridge
began by pulling out the piers, then the south abutment. But then the
Chaska Trestle Burned. The project for a new bridge was abandoned. The trail was reconnected to
Chaska after the new MN-41 bridge was built.
The Chaska Swing Bridge is my hometown mystery bridge. So much was unknown about this bridge when I started with it in 2010.
The bridge was demolished in 1996, a year before I was born. Although both my parents seem to remember it, I never got to see it.
When the bridge came down, the workers accessed it from the east. They had to bulldoze the east abutment in order to access the scrap steel.
Three of the four stone structures came down. Much of the stone was relocated and used for decorative purposes along the trail, with another bunch simply being thrown on the east bank.
All the steel was removed, although I have found minuscule chunks of it.
The bridge was first built in 1871 as a wooden swing bridge, and was rebuilt in 1889 using steel.
When it was built the final time in 1905 (The DNR claimed 1900, although a date stamp says otherwise), the river was still navigable. The new bridge was a pin connected swing span with a large five panel pratt through truss approach.
The bridge had elongated abutments, which were considered part of the bridge as parapets (38' East and 20' West).
Today, all that exists is the west abutment.
The photos above are from the John Hill collection of 1977.
Minnesota River Railroad Bridges
|Upstream||Carver Railroad Bridge|
|Downstream||Dan Patch Swing Bridge|
These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Newspaper Articles and Misc Photos