Ramsey Mill Pond Rail Bridge

Abandoned Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Cedar River
Near Austin, Mower County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Ramsey Mill Pond Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By River Oaks Golf Club
Length 220 Feet Total, 110 Foot Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Type Pratt Through Truss
Date Built 1886, Relocated Here 1911
Using Parts Relocated From Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is Abandoned)
Current Status To Become a Trail
In 1872, the Southern Minnesota Railroad constructed 165 miles of new track in Southern Minnesota from La Crescent to Winnebago.

On the east end, the line had to cross through the most difficult terrain in the state, often requiring following and crossing the Root River, as well as following valleys and hills. However, once past Spring Valley, the grading would become much easier.

By 1878, the line was extended from Winnebago to Flandreau, South Dakota, an additional 138 miles.
The following year, the line would reach into Sioux Falls. At the same time, in 1880, the Southern Minnesota Railroad would be purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway.

By 1913, with a Pacific Extension under construction, the railroad changed its name to the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railway (Milwaukee Road).

The Milwaukee Road was often times a poor railroad, and this accelerated its demise.

A major 100 mile section would be abandoned in 1980 from La Crescent to Ramsey, where it met another Milwaukee Road Mainline.
In addition, the portion west of Jackson to Sioux Falls would be abandoned the same year.

While typical abandonments include property either sitting with the railroad, or being reverted to landowners, this was different.

The portion from Ramsey to Dexter was kept in public hands, and from Dexter to Money Creek Woods was kept as a trail.

When Milwaukee Road fell in 1985, Soo Line purchased them. Soo Line in turn sold this line to Iowa, Chicago & Eastern in 1997.

IC&E eventually came part of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern, who in turn merged with Canadian Pacific in 2008. CP currently operates the line between Ramsey and Jackson.

This unique truss bridge crosses the Cedar River, at the River Oaks Golf Club, north of Austin.

The bridge is currently owned by the River Oaks Golf Club, and sits abandoned. The bridge does appear to see some limited foot traffic though.

The bridge itself is extremely unique. While the date stamp on the concrete substructure says 1911, the bridge design says otherwise.
The bridge is a simple two span Pratt Through Truss, with vertical endposts at the middle of the structure. Each span consists of a pair of 6 panel, pin connected trusses with a lattice style bracing.

The reason for the vertical endposts in the middle? It is suspected the bridge is a relocated swing bridge.
This suspicion was proven true when the original location of the bridge was found. The bridge was relocated from Milwaukee, Wisconsin from across the Menomonee River. The trusses were later confirmed to have been built in 1886.

Overall, the bridge has seen no severe corrosion and retains an excellent integrity. This may be due to the fact that it is actually constructed of Wrought Iron, once again putting this truss in the ca. 1880 range.
The Bridge is to become a trail, connecting a trail along the river into Austin.

The photo above is an overview of this historic structure.

A special thank you to the Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library for finding the build date!

Cedar River Railroad Bridges

Upstream CGW Cedar Creek Arch
Downstream DM&E Cedar River Bridge (Austin)

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