Chippewa Falls Rail Bridge

Quadrangular Through Truss Bridge over Chippewa River
Chippewa Falls, Chippewa County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Chippewa Falls Railroad Bridge
Built By Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 907 Feet Total, 160 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Quadrangular Lattice Through Truss with Deck Plate Girders
Substructure Type Concrete and Steel Pile
Date Built 1891, Rebuilt 1994 and 2014
Date of Fire July 20th, 1993
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 10.62
Significance High Significance
In 1881, the Chippewa Falls and Northern Railway began construction on a 14 mile route between Chippewa Falls and Bloomer, Wisconsin.
The following year, the route would be extended 55 miles to a point known as Chicago Junction, near Spooner.
Concurrently, the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha was working on 61 miles of track between Superior, Wisconsin and Spooner.
By 1883, the Eau Claire & Chippewa Falls Railway began construction on a 10 mile route between the namesake cities. When completed, the route would become part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway, which was controlled by the Chicago & North Western Railway.
By the end of 1883, the EC&CF would become part of the Omaha Road.

The Omaha Road remained independent in operations until 1957, when it was formally leased. In 1972, it was fully merged into the Chicago & North Western.
A majority of operations were ended on this route in the 1980s and 1990s. In 1995, the C&N.w was purchased by Union Pacific Railroad.
Today, a segment from near Gordon to Superior is operated by Canadian National, while the segment from Trego to Spooner is the Wisconsin Great Northern.
The route between Gordon and Cameron is now the Wild Rivers Trail, while the southern end between Cameron and Eau Claire is owned by Union Pacific, but leased by Progressive Rail owned Wisconsin Northern.

This large truss bridge crosses the Chippewa River in Chippewa Falls.
Built in 1891, the bridge originally featured six spans. These spans were set on wooden piers, as sharp currents of the Chippewa River prevented a traditional style of stone masonry construction.
This bridge would later have trestle approaches added.
The bridge remained largely unchanged until July 20th, 1993. On this date, someone intentionally set the bridge on fire, causing the northern two spans to fail.
As a response, three deck girder spans were brought in from a nearby bridge over Lake Wissota, and were installed on steel pile piers.
For another 20 years, the bridge again remained unchanged. However, in 2014, the bridge was upgraded to handle modern sand loads.
The remaining wooden piers were replaced, and the approaches were replaced with modular concrete beam spans. In addition, the trusses were heavily strengthened at this time.
Overall, the bridge in good condition. Recent rehabilitations likely make this bridge safe from demolition for the time, although it is possible replacement could be on the horizon.

The author has ranked this bridge as being highly significant, due to the old age and unique rebuilds.
Below, Tom Larson contributed photos of the bridge fire, contributed by Tom Larson. The photo above is a current overview of the structure.

Chippewa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Lake Wissota Bridge
Downstream UP Chippewa River Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series,
Tom Larson Photos


Source Type


Build Date Chicago & North Western Railway Historical Society Archives
Rehabilitation Dates Eye witness accounts
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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