Sandstone Rail Bridge

Pratt Deck Truss Bridge over Kettle River
Sandstone, Pine County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Sandstone Rail Bridge
Built By St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway
Contractor (Truss) Edge Moor Bridge Works of Wilmington, Delaware
Contractor (Girders) Unknown
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 764 Feet Total, 160 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 90 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Deck Truss and Deck Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry, Concrete and Steel Tower
Date Built 1893, Approaches built 1903 and 1912
Traffic Count 12 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 62.4
Significance Regional Significance
In 1888, the Eastern Railway of Minnesota completed a line between Superior, Wisconsin and Hinckley, Minnesota.
Ten years later, the Eastern Railway of Minnesota competed another 65 miles to Fridley, Minnesota.
The Eastern Railway of Minnesota became part of the Great Northern in 1907, and this became the mainline for the GN between Minneapolis and Duluth.

The Great Northern became part of Burlington Northern in 1970, via a merger with their competitor, Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway.
In 1996, the BN became a part of BNSF Railway, through a merger with the Atchiston, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway.

Today, the line continues to be operated as the Hinckley Subdivision, and is the last active rail route between the Twin Cities and Duluth.

Crossing high above the Kettle River near Sandstone, this massive viaduct is one of the largest railroad bridges in Minnesota.
Originally built in 1893 with a deck truss and deck girder spans, the bridge has been upgraded since. Most of the deck girder spans were added in 1903, when new approaches were constructed to replace trestle spans. Additional work was done in 1912 with the addition of one span; in 1924 with the strengthening of the truss with a third truss line, and in 1948 with the addition of one span, and the strengthening of the truss.
The main span of the bridge is a large 6-panel, pin connected Pratt Deck Truss. This large truss features lightweight members. The truss sits on steel towers, which also support the deck girder spans. The footings of the bridge are constructed of stone.
GN AFE records indicate that the bridge was reinforced twice, both in 1924 and 1946. Several of the girder spans, as well as the truss have had third structural lines added to them for additional strength.
A landmark to Minnesota railroading, this large viaduct is located at a scenic point on the Kettle River, near Banning State Park.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition. Unfortunately, the lightweight design of the structure will undoubtedly make this bridge a candidate for replacement in the future.

The author has ranked the bridge as being regionally significant, due to the unique and large scale design.
The photo above is an overview from Watertower Park.


Source Type


Build Date Great Northern 1961 Bridge Records at the Minnesota Historical Society
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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