The Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad was initially authorized by the Kansas Legislature in 1855, and changed the name to the Union Pacific Eastern Division in 1863.
Construction began in Kansas City in September 1863. The original goal was to meet the Central Branch Union Pacific Railroad somewhere near Clay Center, Kansas.
In 1864, the first 40 miles of line between Kansas City and Lawrence was placed into operation. During the fall of 1866, the railroad extended again to Junction City, and reached Salina the following year.
The planners of the railroad realized it would be far more profitable to reach Denver instead of ending at the originally intended Fort Riley. Citizens lobbied heavily to extend the railroad even further west.
Reorganized as the Kansas Pacific, an extension towards Colorado began building west from Salina in 1869. When the railroad reached Kit Carson, Colorado the following year, the KP began building east from Denver. The two railroads met at Strasburg, Colorado in August 1870.
Because the western segment from Denver to Strasburg originally connected with another railroad, the meeting at Strasburg was the first time the east and west coast were connected by railroad, including a bridge over the Missouri River, which did not exist at that time in Omaha.
In 1874, Jay Gould gained control of the KP, and was reorganized as the Union Pacific Railroad. Other than track upgrades, the line saw little change since the 1870 connection.
Today, UP continues to operate the line in four subdivisions. The eastern portion of the Kansas Subdivision extends from Kansas City to Topeka, the Salina Subdivision extends from Topeka to Salina, the Sharon Springs Subdivision extends from Salina to Sharon Springs, and the Limon Subdivision extends from Sharon Springs to Denver.
Located just west of Rossville along US Highway 24, this small truss bridge crosses Cross Creek.
Built in 1906, the bridge consists of a single 4-panel riveted Warren Through Truss, set onto concrete substructures. In addition, the bridge is approached by a short deck girder span on either side.
The truss follows a standard design, including the use of solid portal bracing, built up members and a short design. While Union Pacific used these trusses along other lines throughout the system, almost all other trusses between Topeka and Denver utilize a quadrangular design, with the exception of a pin connected bridge at Byers, Colorado; which was unfortunately replaced in 2018.
A small truss like this is somewhat unusual for this crossing. It would be expected that a large through girder could be used instead.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with no significant deterioration noted. Some minor spalling was noted throughout the substructures.
The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the truss design.
The photo above is an overview.