Carver Main Street Bridge

Preserved Girder Bridge over Main Street
Carver, Carver County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Carver Main Street Bridge
Built By Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By City of Carver
Length 96 Feet Total, 35 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 12 Feet
Superstructure Type Steel Girder and Wooden Trestle
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Timber Pile
Date Built 1926, using 1871 Piers
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is Preserved)
Current Status Preserved in Place
M&StL Bridge Number 22
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1871, the Minneapolis and Saint Louis (M&StL) began building a line from Minneapolis to a point just south of Carver, a distance of about 30 miles.
The line crossed the Minnesota River at Carver on a large wooden bridge. By 1877, the route would continue to Albert Lea, forming a mainline between two large markets.
However, to the north the line had some issues. Coming down the grade into the Minnesota River Valley was difficult, and the route saw massive trestles and sharp turns that were tough to maintain.
In 1901, a correction was made for this area, known as "Chaska Hill". A project was undertaken to eliminate all trestles and fills.
At the same time, the M&StL purchased the Iowa Central Railway, which had built from Albert Lea all the way to Peoria, Illinois.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the M&StL was oftentimes in poor financial condition. A series of proposed mergers fell through, keeping the struggling railroad alive.

By the 1950s, the route had regained some footing in the Minnesota and Iowa railroad market. A sizable system meant there was some attraction of merger to the road.
In 1960, the Chicago & North Western Railway purchased this line in what would become the first of several large railroad mergers.

In 1983, the line was abandoned from Montgomery to Waseca due to the purchase of the parallel Rock Island line. In 1986, the line from Hartland was sold to Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern.
In 1991, the line from Chaska to Hopkins was abandoned, and the section to Minneapolis followed in 1994. This became a trail, now known as the Minnesota River Bluffs Trail between Hopkins and Chaska.
By 1995, the C&NW would be purchased by Union Pacific.

In 2007, following a trestle collapse, the line from Merriam Junction to Chaska was abandoned, and intended to be used for trail.
In 2011, the section from Albert Lea to Hartland was abandoned. This was intended to become a trail as well.
One last segment remains between Waseca and Hartland, and it is owned by DM&E, a subsidiary of Canadian Pacific.
A portion from Chaska to Minneapolis remains a popular trail, and the segment from Chaska to Merriam Junction is currently abandoned.
Future plans for the route include construction of a Light Rail transit between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie.

The sole remaining railroad bridge in the river town of Carver crosses Main Street.
Originally built in 1871, the bridge was connected to the Carver Railroad Bridge by means of trestle spans on the south end.
When built in 1871, the bridge looked very similar to how it does now. A simple I-Beam bridge was set onto stone piers. This beam was again replaced in 1889 by another beam span.

Historic Photo
1910 photo of the previous bridge, courtesy of Carver on the Minnesota.

In 1926, the older I-Beam was upgraded with a new I-Beam structure. This was set onto the original 1871 piers, and approached by wooden trestle spans.
With little change, much of the south approach was put under an earthen dike in the 1990s. However, it was still connected to the main bridge until the removal of the main bridge.
In 2011, this bridge was faced with demolition. While the river bridge was contracted for removal for understandable reasons, this landmark structure was also contracted for demolition, for less understandable reasons.
However, the author teamed with a gentleman from Carver to convince the City of Carver to take ownership of the landmark bridge.
In a 4-1 vote, the city council voted to acquire the bridge for future preservation. The structure is important to the town, mainly because of the "gate" feeling it has had to the park behind it.
That park originally served as the first location of the Carver County Fair, and is a popular place to camp currently.
Since 2011, the bridge has stood unchanged, although stenciling has been added to the bridge saying "Riverside Park" on one side. The deck of the bridge was fenced off, and its apparent that the bridge may never be reused for trail use.
However, the author agrees with this decision. Keeping the bridge in original condition is important for a landmark in the small town of Carver.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the common design but lack of historic bridges in the region.
Being built in 1926 wouldn't make a bridge like this notable in most counties, however Carver County has very few historic bridges. This structure, and a 1913 overpass in Chaska are the oldest structures in the county.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can easily be accessed from the road below.


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

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