Two extensions were considered for the young and prosperous railroad. One of which would extend to Decorah.
In 1880, the line was obtained by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad, who converted it to standard guage. They ripped up the Decorah branch.
The line came out of the Mississippi River Valley through some of the hardest terrain in the midwest. It followed the Paint Creek Valley for the majority of the time.
The CM&StP became the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific (Milwaukee Road) in 1913.
The line served a major lead mine until 1933, when it was removed.
By 1972, the line was starting to struggle, and the Milwaukee Road abandoned it.
Today, chunks of it serve as local roads and some structures still remain as a reminder.
Located in Waterville, this unique girder bridge crosses Paint Creek.
Originally built in approximately 1895, it appears that the main girder was moved here from another location. It also appears that the approaches, lightweight deck girders, were moved here from another location as well, and were originally built around the same time.
Moving old spans to routes with lighter traffic was and still is a common way for railroads to save money. The evidence of relocation on this bridge is clear, including the ends of the girder, indicating that it was once part of a pair. In addition, this girder is a half through girder, although that may be evidence of a rebuilding instead of having originally been built as such. Extra rivet lines also further indicate a reconstruction of the span upon relocation.
Currently, the bridge consists of a single through girder span, approached by a deck girder span on either side, as well as trestle spans, and is set on concrete and wood piers. It appears that the bridge was moved here from various locations in approximately 1930.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, and is likely the best built of several similar bridges along this route. Unfortunately, so far no information has been found on this bridge.
The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design, despite the history.
The photo above is an overview.