BNSF Grand River Bridge (Sumner)

Baltimore Through Truss Bridge over Grand River
Sumner, Chariton County, Missouri
Rural Livingston County, Missouri

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name BNSF Grand River Bridge (Sumner)
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 505 Feet Total, 200 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 25 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Baltimore Through Truss and Through Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1951
Traffic Count 5 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date August 2017
In 1851, the Hannibal and St. Joseph Railroad charted a line between the namesake cities in Missouri; set on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, respectively.

The concept of the railroad was first formed in 1846, at the office of John Marshall Clemmens in Hannibal, Missouri. Clemmens would become most well known for fathering Samuel Clemmens, commonly known by the pen name as Mark Twain.

Construction started at both ends in 1851, and was funded by bonds from the various counties, as well as the donation of significant amounts of land.
The two lines finally met in February of 1859 at Chillicothe, Missouri; located in the north central portion of the state.

The railroad had many historic factors playing into it. In 1859, future American President Abraham Lincoln boarded the train en route to Council Bluffs, Iowa for a speech.
In addition, the first assignment of Col. Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War was to protect the railroad. The railroad was critical for communication, and was a critical link to the Pony Express.

Shortly after Grant left his position, a railroad bridge across the Platte River near St. Joseph was burned, killing nearly 20 people. This would be the biggest disaster along the line.

In 1858, the Quincy and Palmyra Railroad built a line between Quincy and Palmyra, Missouri. This connected the line to Illinois. At Palmyra, it met with the existing mainline. The Quincy and Palmyra would be acquired by the H&StJ shortly after completion.

In turn, the H&StJ would be absorbed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy in 1883. The CB&Q had amassed a considerable amount of trackage throughout the midwest, and this would serve as a mainline.

Due to the demand of traffic trying to get to Kansas City, a new line would be constructed in 1954. This line would leave the existing mainline at Brookfield, Missouri and head in a Southwest direction to Kansas City, entering the city on Wabash Trackage rights.
This led to the remaining line west of Brookfield being reduced to a branch line. Also, in 1957 the CB&Q would abandon the section from Palmyra to Hannibal.

In 1970, CB&Q merged with Northern Pacific and Great Northern to form Burlington Northern, a large conglomerate which had significant trackage throughout the midwest. By 1985, BN would abandoned the section between Laclede and St. Joseph.

By 1996, the BN would merge with rival Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF. The line roughly parallels the Marcelline Subdivision, which sees the bulk of the traffic. However, this route has served as a reliable backup and local route, and is currently known as the Brookfield Subdivision.
Because of the nature of the entire Brookfield Subdivision, which runs from Kansas City to Galesburg, Illinois; this is considered the western half of the line.

This large Baltimore Through Truss and girder bridge crosses the Grand River near Sumner.
Built in 1951 as part of a relocation through the area, the bridge consists of a large riveted Baltimore Through Truss main span. In addition, the bridge is approached by through girders on either side.
The main truss of the bridge is heavily built, and the entire bridge rests on concrete substructures.
Overall, the bridge remains in good condition.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the newer age of the structure.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the parallel Missouri Highway 139.

Grand River Railroad Bridges
Upstream DM&E Grand River Bridge (Chillicothe)
Downstream BNSF Grand River Bridge (Snyder)


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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