In 1890, the Winona & Southwestern Railway built a line from Rochester to Osage, Iowa. This came under the Chicago Great Western as well in 1902.
With the Chicago Great Western owning these two lines, they developed an interest to fill the gap between them. In 1902, construction started between the two towns.
The new line would serve as a branch line for the Chicago Great Western, as their mainline ran 20 miles to the west through Dodge County.
The CGW came under possession of the Chicago & Northwestern in 1968.
In 1972 the line was abandoned from Pine Island to Rochester. This line became part of the Minnesota DNR's network of new state trails popping up on railroad grades by the late 70s.
Today, it is known as the Douglas Trail. It suffered some major damage in Pine Island in 2010 from flooding. Both bridges over the Zumbro were replaced by modern bridges.
The bridge west of Oronoco was repaired in 2013, along with the rest of the trail as a campaign to rebuild the early state rail-trails.
Sitting alone in the bluffs of rural Olmsted County lies this bridge.
This bridge was built in 1903, when the line was constructed. The bridge originally featured three spans of through girder.
At the same time, there were two identical bridges at Pine Island over the N. Branch Middle Fork Zumbro River that were destroyed in 2010 flooding.
The one over the main channel was destroyed. The pier sunk down about 6 feet to one direction. The bridge was immediately closed.
The other was over an overflow channel and was in good health. This one was removed in favor of a modern bridge. The bridge was scrapped, but one span found its way onto this bridge in 2013.
Through 2013, the Minnesota DNR resurfaced the complete trail and redecked/repaired all the bridges. This one recieved a new span from Pine Island on the south end.
The south abutment was bulldozed and a faux cut stone pier and abutment were added for the new span.
Much of the great views of this bridge from the field are marked as private property, although on the downstream side, views can be attained.
Views can also be attained from the abutments, like the photo above which is looking north along the bridge. The new span is in front.