Cedar Bend Drawbridge

Through Truss Swing Bridge over St. Croix River
Near Osceola, Polk County, Wisconsin
Near Scandia, Washington County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Cedar Bend Drawbridge
Built By Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway
Contractor Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company of Milwaukee
Currently Owned By Canadian National Railway
Length 675 Feet Total, 286 Foot Swing Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Warren Through Truss Swing Bridge and I-Beam
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Concrete
Date Built 1913, Approaches Rebuilt 1962
Traffic Count 1 Train/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
CN Bridge Number 38.90
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1887, the Minneapolis, Sault Ste. Marie and Atlantic Railway began construction of a line east from Withrow, Minnesota towards Wisconsin.

The new line branched off the existing Wisconsin Central mainline northwest of Stillwater, and began a decent to the St. Croix River Valley. It followed the river closely before crossing it at Cedar Bend.

In Wisconsin, it came through Osceola and Dresser before heading east again. The line went through Amery and ended at Turtle Lake.

The next year, the railroad would become part of the Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway, known as the Soo Line.

At Turtle Lake, it connected to a railroad built the year before, which continued west.
The Soo Line became part of Canadian Pacific in 1986, which spun off this line in 1989 to Wisconsin Central, Ltd. The WC became part of Canadian National in 2001.

The railroad continued to serve as a northern mainline across Wisconsin, until the late 1990s. In 2001, the portion from Turtle Lake to Dresser was abandoned and converted to a state trail.

Presently, the portion from Dresser to Withrow is the Canadian National Dresser Subdivision. The remaining portion is railbanked as a trail, and could likely see rail use again in the future.

One of the most underrated structures along the St. Croix River is the Cedar Bend Drawbridge, which is a beautiful structure.
Unfortunately, encasement of the stone piers has made it significantly less attractive.
However, the bridge is located in a highly isolated area near Osceola, Wisconsin. The bridge is only accessible with a four wheel drive vehicle, such as a light truck or a ATV.
Built in 1913, the bridge features a pair of 6 panel, riveted Warren Through Trusses set onto a Swing Pier. These spans are connected by a tower, creating a standard swing span. It is unknown if this bridge ever opened, but it was designed by the railroad head engineer.
On the east side, 9 I-Beam spans approach the bridge. On the west side, a single I-Beam span approaches it.
These I-Beam spans were added in 1962 to replace an aging trestle.
The bridge sits on concrete piers and stone piers, encased in cement.
The swing span is no longer operational, as the gears have been removed so it can no longer turn.

Access to the bridge can be very difficult. From WI-35, turn west onto 55th Avenue and follow it back. This turns into Drawbridge Drive, a very poorly maintained gravel road, featuring many sharp turns, potholes and outright ruts.
The most dangerous part of this drive is the massive approach to the railroad tracks. This steep hill has not been graded well, and extreme caution must be used. As of 2017, the road was gated off.
The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the newer age and truss design.
The photo above is an overview.

St. Croix River Railroad Bridges
Upstream NP St. Croix River Bridge (Rush City)
Downstream Soo Line High Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Detail Photos


Source Type


Main Span Build Date Soo Line Historical & Technical Society Archives
Approach Span Build Date Missing American Bridge Company Plaque
Main Span Contractor Soo Line Historical & Technical Society Archives
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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