2 years prior, in 1883, the StPM&M began extending and relocating their Minnetonka Cutoff route even further. Before they knew it, it would be at Watertown South Dakota.
This route operated until 1900, when a new route that went through Lake Minnetonka was built. It started in Wayzata, and weaved through Lake Minnetonka until it got to St. Boni, where it followed the same line. The line From Hopkins to St. Boni was cut down to the Hopkins Spur.
St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway became Great Northern in 1907
This line saw 1 or 2 trains a day up to 1970, where the Great Northern merged with Northern Pacific to form Burlington Northern. Burlington Northern would operate this line until 1985, when they would lease it. A person named Jerry Ross would buy the line, and a few F units and slugs and name is company Dakota Rail incorporated.
Dakota Rail operated freight trains, and quite often dinner trains. They did very well . People enjoyed riding on tracks that had their roots to 1881. The nice part was, you could go from a suburban area, to the lake, then to the country in 44 miles. But, Dakota Rail would get purchased by RailAmerica in 1995.
RailAmerica struggled with the line. By 2000, they couldn't bring more traffic to the line. The last train left Hutchinson for Wayzata in July 2001. The line was quickly purchased by Hennepin, Carver and Mcleod counties. It sat rotting until 2005, when the ties and rails were pulled out. It then became an overgrown grade.
In 2008, work began on a trail from Wayzata, to St. Boni. It followed this route. It was completed by mid-July 2009. It was then named the Dakota Rail Trail. It quickly gained popularity. One big reason were the 2 large trestle and through plate girder bridges at lake Minnetonka. Another was the fact that it was paved, unlike the Minnesota River Bluffs and Lake Minnetonka Trails, which both follow former Minneapolis & St Louis grades.
Carver County continued the work on the trail from St. Boni. But before that, they needed to build bridges over Hwy 7 and County 92. Highway 7 is just a dangerous road, but County 92 had a bridge originally. The trail was started 2010. There was an old trestle over Donders Creek that needed to be replaced. And one over a creek that needed to be converted. By May 21st 2011, the trail was continued to Mayer, stretching 8 more miles from St. Boni. It goes through farmlands, and near lake Waconia.
The trail is set to be in Lester Prairie by 2013, with work starting 2012. Then, it
will be extended to
Hutchinson. One thing is for sure, people love the trail. There is another bridge
that could become iconic over the South Branch of the Crow River between Mayer and New
Germany. Carver County
decided to keep all the historic
signs like mileposts in. This trail is only getting started. It will become even
This bridge is one of the "Big Three" on the Dakota Rail Trail. The others being the Arcola Trestle and the S. Fork Crow River Bridge
This one is the middle sized one. It is a very recognized structure though. Many people see this bridge.
This bridge, from west to east, consists of:
4 Spans Trestle
1-50' Through Plate Girder
8 Spans Trestle
The bridge here before 1914 was a structure with a large 140' Howe Truss, which likley was constructed of wood, probably when the railroad was first built through here in 1900. There was a similar bridge at Crystal Bay (Arcola Trestle) and at Appleton over the Minnesota River.
This bridge was converted to trail in 2008/2009, and should stay that way for a long time.
Many boats cross underneath this bridge on a daily basis.
The photo above is looking from County 15, and is from October 2013.