Merrill Rail Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Wisconsin River
Merrill, Lincoln County, Wisconsin

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Name Merrill Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul & Pacific Railway
Contractor Lassig Bridge & Iron Works of Chicago
Currently Owned By City of Merrill
Length 315 Feet Total, 115 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt through Truss and Trestle
Substructure Type Timber Pile
Date Built Ca. 1930 using a relocated 1895 Truss
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is Abandoned)
Current Status Abandoned
MILW Bridge Number G-388
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1914, the Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Paul & Pacific Railway (Milwaukee Road) built a 18 mile branch line from Merrill to New Wood, Wisconsin. The line was built to serve the major logging industry of the area.
On the south end, the line connected to the Milwaukee Road's Valley Subdivision. On the north end, a major turnaround was constructed to haul raw logs back to Merrill to be processed and shipped to paper plants along the Wisconsin River.
The line served a number of lumber companies until 1943, when all but the portions in Merrill were ripped out.

Today in Merrill, only a portion of the grade remains. The portion in Merrill was used into the 1990s to serve some local industry.
The rail beds from Downtown Merrill to the west side of Merrill, including the Wisconsin River Bridge are planned to become part of the Riverbend Trail in the future.

This bridge is the largest bridge in Merrill, and one of several interesting structures in Lincoln County.
Originally built at an unknown location in 1895, the bridge was relocated here around 1930 to replace an older all timber bridge.
The island that this bridge connects was once home to a major log processing industry, which is now gone. Today, the island is heavily overgrown, and the railroad ties rotted out.
With a main span consisting of a standardized 5-panel, pin connected Pratt Through Truss, the bridge likely was originally built for mainline service.
However, during a period of rebuilding, it is likely that the bridge became unnecessary for the location. A trio of identical spans exist, and according to an annual report, major rebuilding occurred in Iowa in 1895.
While Spring Green currently has a pair of identical trusses and a swing span, in 1918 it had four more trusses on the east end, likely of similar design. However, conflicting information was reported for this bridge in 1900.
In addition to the main span, the bridge has approach trestles on either side and is supported by wood piers, which the Milwaukee Road used on branch lines as an economical alternative to concrete or stone.
The trestle approach has signs of age, as it was likely last rebuilt in the 1970s.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition. It is hoped it will be reused for trail use.

The author has ranked the bridge as being moderately significant, due to the truss design.
The best views are from the bridge, which is above. It is looking west across the bridge.

Wisconsin River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Lake Mohawkskin Rail Bridge
Downstream (West Channel) CN Barker Island Bridge (N)
Downstream (East Channel) Barker Island Trail Bridge


Source Type


Build Date Lassig Bridge & Iron Works plaque
Erection Date Estimated based on historic aerial imagery
Contractor Lassig Bridge & Iron Works plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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