DM&E Oak Avenue Bridge

Lost Steel Girder Bridge over Oak Avenue
Owatonna, Steele County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name DM&E Oak Avenue Bridge
Built By Chicago & North Western Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad
Length 32 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 12 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1894
Date Replaced 2016
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge has been Replaced)
Current Status Superstructure Replaced
DM&E Bridge Number M215.5
Significance Local Significance
In 1861, after the financial crisis of 1859, the Winona, St Peter, Missouri River railroad company was awarded the property to build across Minnesota. They laid the track on the graded line, and continued building. The railroad reached Rochester in 1864, and Owatonna in 1866, until they were largely purchased by Chicago & North Western Railway in 1867. The CNW operated the W&StP as a subsidiary, and continued building west in 1871.
C&NW reached Mankato, and built a little north, crossing the Minnesota River at St. Peter, staying north of the River until finally crossing back over at New Ulm. It then went to Tracy, and later Watertown, SD. It reached South Dakota in 1872.
The Chicago & North Western opted for a new route between New Ulm and Mankato. They built it in 1899, using the old route as a backup.
A portion between Burdette (East Mankato) and Kasota was abandoned in 1937, and the remainder between Kasota and just east of New Ulm abandoned in 1954 and 1959. The line east of New Ulm was retained as a spur to a quarry.

By 1986, the C&NW was looking to abandoned this route. A group of Senators stepped in and purchased the line, and named the Dakota Minnesota & Eastern.
After many years of independent and rapidly expanding operations, the DM&E was purchased by the Canadian Pacific in 2008. CP continues to operate the route between Winona and Tracy, with the Waseca to Winona portion known as the Waseca Subdivision.

Located in downtown Owatonna, this short girder bridge once crossed Oak Avenue.
Built in 1894, the bridge featured a single deck plate girder span, built in a four girder configuration. The bridge was built onto stone abutments.
In 2016, the bridge was replaced by a new modular span. Unfortunately, this was a loss of one of the older girder spans in southern Minnesota.
The history of the span may not entirely be known either. A four beam arrangement oftentimes indicates that the bridge was rebuilt and possibly moved to that location.

The author has ranked the bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Date Carving
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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