Wells Rail Bridge

Warren Deck Truss Bridge over Escanaba River
Wells, Delta County, Michigan

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Wells Rail Bridge
Built By Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of Chicago (Lassig Branch)
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 695 Feet Total, 95 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Warren Deck Truss and Deck Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1901
Traffic Count 10 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
CN Bridge Number 276
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1887, the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway continued a line from Rhinelander, Wisconsin 126 miles east to Gladstone, Michigan.

This line was another expansion to the growing mainline from far Western North Dakota, through Minnesota and Wisconsin. The line would see an expansion the following year from Gladstone to Sault Ste. Marie.

This line became the base of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway, which would acquire it in late 1888.

The route was renamed the Lake States Transportation Division, which consisted of mainlines between Minneapolis and Chicago, as well as Sault Ste. Marie.
This route was sold to the Wisconsin Central Ltd in 1987.

Canadian National purchased the Wisconsin Central in 2001, and continues to operate this line. Today, the line between Pembine and North Escanaba is known as the Pembine Subdivision, while from North Escanaba to Sault Ste. Marie is known as the Manistique Subdivision.

This large and iconic deck truss bridge crosses the Escanaba River between Escanaba and Wells, Michigan.

The bridge is located just upstream of the formerly more significant Escanaba Rail Bridge, which was demolished in 2015.

Fortunately, this bridge still remains. It contains 5 large 5-panel riveted Warren Deck Trusses. These are approached by 4 spans of deck girder on the west side.
These trusses were likely built by the Minneapolis Steel & Machinery Company, although no proof has been presented of this.
However, the deck girders were confirmed as being built by the Lassig Branch of the American Bridge Company.

The bridge is very easy to photograph from a nearby road. It rests on concrete substructures.
It appears to be in nearly pristine condition too.

The author has ranked the bridge with moderate significance because of the unusual and large string of trusses. Large sets of trusses, especially at this age are not commonly seen in the Upper Peninsula.

The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date American Bridge Company plaque
Contractor American Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

Widget is loading comments...

© Copyright 2010- John Marvig and Contributors. All Rights Reserved