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.
Built in 1916 using a pair of relocated spans, this bridge consisted of a pair of 55' through girder spans, approached by trestles. In 2011, one of the spans was washed off the piers and set nearby in a field. It has since been scrapped.
The girder spans were originally built at Bridge #Z-318 (Byron, Illinois) in 1895, and were relocated to Bridge #Z-302 (Stillman Valley, Illinois) during a double tracking project in 1898. In 1916, the spans were reused at this bridge.
Moving old spans to routes with lighter traffic was and still is a common way for railroads to save money. The half girder design is oftentimes created out of regular through girders during times of rebuilding.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in poor condition, and suffered a collapse in 2011. It is unknown what will happen to the remaining span.
The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design, despite the history.
The photo above is an overview.