The route generally followed a path to the south of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, connecting towns such as Farmington, Shakopee and Chaska.
The following year, the 72 mile segment from Hastings to Glencoe would be sold to the Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. The M&StP owned a sizable amount of trackage in the area, and this line became a natural assett.
By 1876, the railroad was merged to form the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway, also known as the Milwaukee Road.
This route became unfavorable for the Milwaukee Road, as it bypassed the Twin Cities. In response, a route known as the "Benton Cutoff" would be built in 1882, rendering the Cologne-Hastings line as obsolete.
Between this time and World War II, the route saw a steady amount of traffic due to freight and passengers. However, after WWII, the passenger traffic was virtually non existent.
By 1978, the line became a major hole for the Milwaukee Road, which had been renamed the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railway in 1913 due to an extension to the Pacific.
In response, the route was abandoned in its entirety between Cologne and Hastings. Fortunately, Carver and Scott Counties worked together to preserve a portion between Chaska and Shakope as a trail.
The trail would be built in the early 1980s, and crossed a large trestle and a large swing bridge near Chaska. However, both these bridges would be damaged in 1996.
In August of 1996, the center pier of the swing bridge crossing the Minnesota River sunk in a matter of days, closing the trail and forcing the demolition of the historic structure.
Later that year, the large trestle on the overflow of the river caught fire and was partially destroyed.
The trail was severed from 1996 until 2008, when a new crossing parallel to the highway in Chaska was completed.
The once popular Chaska-Shakopee trail has never recovered from losing the landmark bridge, and the crumbling asphalt is a memory of the past highlight status of the trail.
Carver at one time had two major railroad bridges, with this being the northern of the two structures.
The original structure was built in 1872, and replaced at least twice. The first bridge was a large wooden deck truss structure.
In the 1880s, it was replaced with a large wooden trestle. By 1912, that bridge was already deteriorated and in need of replacement.
When the final structure was built, it consisted of a number of deck girder spans on wooden towers. Six deck girder spans were constructed, possibly reusing older spans from the area.
In addition to the deck girder spans, the bridge was approached by a number of trestle spans on either side. The bridge was very unique for the substructures, which were made of wooden towers tensioned with steel cable.
Its possible that the deck girders were relocated from previous locations. This idea can be seen in the differing deck girder spans.
In 1981, the bridge was removed due to liability issues. There was reportedly a push to preserve the structure, which inevitably fell through.
The bridge was notorious for snowmobiles, jeeps and other all-terrain vehicles crossing it after being abandoned.
If the bridge was still extant, the author would have given it a ranking of regional significance, due to the unique design and rather large scale for this area.
The photo above was taken by vern Wigfield, and is looking west along the bridge.
Photos that made this page possible were contributed by Vern Wigfield (VW), John Hill (JH) and Carver on the Minnesota (*)