Watertown Trail Bridge

Deck Girder Bridge over S. Fork Crow River
Watertown, Carver County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Watertown Trail Bridge
Built By Minnesota Western Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Minnesota DNR
Length 185 Feet Total, 65 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 20 Feet
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1929, Approaches Added 1977
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails To Trails
C&NW Bridge Number 301
Significance Local Significance
The Luce Line Electric Line Railroad was first charted in 1908. The plan was to build a profitable rail line linking Minneapolis to Brookings, South Dakota including many unserved farming communities along the way.
The first construction began in 1913 and included 8 miles from the western limits of Minneapolis to Parkers Lake. By 1915, the railroad reached Hutchinson.

Construction began again, and reached Lake Lillian in 1923. Because of the late start, the railroad was not as competitive on the freight front. Instead much of the revenue came from tourists to the western portions of Lake Minnetonka.
In 1924, the company was reorganized into the Minnesota Western Railroad. Plans now called for an extension to Brookings. By 1927, the line reached Gluek, east of Montevideo.
After this, freight became more major. The Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway became the owner in 1959, and was shortly bought by the Chicago & Northwestern Railway.

The C&NW was known for purchasing railroads and abandoning them. This one would be no different, and it was abandoned in 1970.
Upon abandonment, trail talks would come up. At the time, 7 other state trails had been approved (Minnesota Valley, Casey Jones, Heartland, Douglas, Glacial Lakes, Root River and Sakatah Singing Hills).
Although the Supreme Court ruled trails were an acceptable use of rail corridors, local landowners tried to block it.
Due to the opposition, land west of Cosmos would be sold back to landowners in 1980, and the trail was built in 1977 from Cosmos to Minneapolis.

Today, the trail exists as the Luce Line State Trail, and is still a popular tourist attraction.

Originally built as a railroad bridge, this bridge has been altered significantly from the original construction.
When built, the bridge featured a deck girder main span, as well as trestle spans on either side.
However, during the trail conversion process, the timber trestle was in poor condition and was replaced with pedestrian spans.
Currently, the only historic component left is the deck girder span, which still rests on concrete substructures.

The author ranks this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge is easily accessed from the trail it carries.


Source Type


Build Date American Bridge Company plaque
Contractor American Bridge Company plaque

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