BNSF Central Avenue Bridge (Mulvane)

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over Central Avenue
Mulvane, Sumner County, Kansas

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Name BNSF Central Avenue Bridge (Mulvane)
Built By Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 210 Feet Total, 40 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder, Concrete Beam and I-Beam
Substructure Type Concrete and Steel Pile
Date Built 1927, Approaches Rebuilt 2004
Traffic Count 35 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 220.27
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date October 2017
In 1870, the Kansas City and Santa Fe Railroad and Telegraph Company began construction on a 32 mile segment of line between Olathe, Kansas and North Ottawa, Kansas.
This line was the base of construction operations of a new mainline across Kansas. This railroad would become the Kansas City, Lawrence and Southern Kansas Railroad by 1880, and later the Southern Kansas Railway in 1883.

Another segment of line was added by the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1871. This segment connected Emporia, Kansas to Ellinor, Kansas.
In 1875, another segment from the Kansas City Union Depot to Olathe was added by the Kansas City, Topeka & Western Railroad; later leased to the ATSF in 1875.

By 1879, another segment between Mulvane and Wellington, Kansas was opened by the Cowley, Sumner and Fort Smith Railroad. This was leased to the ATSF in 1879.
In 1884, the Kansas City & Emporia Railway opened a connecting line between Ottawa and Emporia. This line would be leased by the Southern Kansas Railway in 1888; which in turn would be leased by the ATSF in 1889.

By 1887, the final segment of line between Ellinor and Mulvane would be opened by the Chicago, Kansas City & Western Railroad. This railroad would be leased by the ATSF in 1888.

The ATSF began purchasing all of the leased lines in 1899, and would complete it by 1901. This mainline connected to Chicago on the east and Los Angeles on the west.

The entirety of this line would be double tracked around 1905, due to an increased demand for freight service. This would be the backbone of the ATSF system.
Despite the heavy use this line saw, the ATSF oftentimes found itself in financial turmoil. As a result, it would merge with the thriving Burlington Northern in 1996 to form BNSF Railway; the current owner of the line.
BNSF operates this as the Southern Transcontinental Route, and the line between Kansas City and Wellington is known as the Emporia Subdivision. It is one of the most heavily used lines in the BNSF system.

This simple deck girder bridge crosses over Central Avenue in Mulvane. It was built as part of a realignment project.
Built in 1927, the bridge features a single deck girder set onto concrete piers. It was originally approached by timber trestle spans, but these have since been replaced by modular steel and concrete beam spans.
Today, the original deck girder span remains intact. The bridge now sits on concrete and steel pile piers.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the road it crosses.


Source Type


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

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