Dunnville Bottoms Trail Bridge

Whipple Through Truss Bridge over Chippewa River
Near Dunnville, Dunn County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Dunnville Bottoms Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor (Recycled Pieces) Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown Ohio
Currently Owned By Wisconsin DNR
Length 860 Feet Total, 230 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type (Trusses) Whipple and Pratt Through Truss
Superstructure Type (Approach Spans) Deck Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Assembled Ca. 1920
Date Fabricated (Whipple Truss) Ca. 1880
Original Location (Whipple Truss) Unknown
Date Fabricated (Pratt Truss) 1885
Original Location (Pratt Truss) Bridge #256B; Spring Green, Wisconsin
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
MILW Bridge Number M-522
Significance National Significance
In 1882, the Chippewa Falls and Superior Railway wished to build from an existing line in Wabasha, Minnesota to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The same year, the route was extended to Menomonie from Red Cedar Junction.
The route was completed to Chippewa Falls by 1883, but never was extended north to Superior. It was purchased by Milwaukee Road.
At Reeds Landing, a large pontoon bridge allowed bridges to cross the Mississippi River.
By 1882, the railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. Known as the Milwaukee Road, this route became a spur for the railroad giant.
The Milwaukee Road was renamed the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railway in 1915. By 1951, the Pontoon Bridge was dealt a severe blow by ice, and the line was abandoned from Durand to Wabasha.

The remaining portion was purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1979, and was operated by private owners. Despite the promise, a bridge strength issue in Eau Claire would not allow train operations to be feasible, and the route was abandoned in 1981.
In the 1980s, Wisconsin turned it into a trail, and by 2004 the trail was complete to Eau Claire. The Red Cedar branch is also used as a trail.
These trails are named the Chippewa Valley and Red Cedar State Trails.

This bridge contains a mishmash of structures, with the two main truss spans appearing to be relocated from elsewhere.

The overall contents of the bridge are:
24 Spans Trestle
2-84' Spans Deck Plate Girder
1-103' Pratt Truss Span (From Bridge #B-256)
1-230' Whipple Through Truss Span
2 Spans Trestle
Despite the bridges significance, nearly zero information can be located on it. All that has been found so far are a few dates.
The first date found is 1907, which is stamped onto the piers supporting the trusses. This could be a possible relocation date for the trusses, and replacement of the 1880s swing bridge that previously existed here.
However, the 1907 date matches up to three wooden trusses, and would not be the current structure. However, by 1918, the bridge was in its current configuration.
Despite the lack of information, the two trusses are some of the most significant in Western Wisconsin.
The larger 230' Span features a Whipple Through Truss design, with 10 panels and pin connections. The span was clearly relocated from elsewhere, as significant modifications have been made to it. A Morse Bridge Company plaque can be found on the endpost. These spans were likely salvaged from an earlier truss. It is possible these could have been salvaged from either a deck or through truss.
In addition, the span features vertical endposts, extremely rare for railroad trusses, especially of this size.
The original truss was of the same size, but came from an unknown location. It was built in approximately 1880. The rebuild was done to add extra reinforcements, and guide the stresses to the piers. New floorbeams and chords were likely installed as well.
The builder listed is Morse Bridge Company, of Youngstown Ohio. This company was only in business between 1878 and 1888, meaning the reinforcement pieces would've been built at this time.

The shorter, 103' Pratt Through Truss matches the design and dimensions of a span on old Bridge #B-256, a large truss bridge that was replaced by the current bridge in the late 1920s.
The 6 panel, pin connected truss features a very decorative button style portal bracing. With the match in dimensions and design, it is presumed that the smaller truss span was relocated from Spring Green.
In addition to these spans, the bridge has a pair of 84' Deck Girder spans, and numerous spans of wooden trestle approaching it. These massive deck girder spans are also likely relocated, and possibly date to the 1890s.
The bridge rests on a combination of wooden and concrete substructures.

The author has ranked this bridge as being nationally significant, due to the unusual design and clearly historic structure.
Information will continue to be pursued for this structure, and this page will be updated accordingly. The photo above is an overview.
A massive sandbar provides excellent views of this bridge. The photos are from a pair of days-a humid May 2012 morning and a crisp April 2015 evening.

Chippewa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Clairemont Avenue Railroad Bridge
Downstream BNSF Chippewa River Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Detail Photos


Source Type


Erection Date Estimated
Fabrication Date (Pratt Truss) Based on build date of Bridge B256
Original Location (Pratt Truss) Matching Identical Spans
Fabrication Date (Whipple Truss) Estimated based on similar bridges
Original Location (Whipple Truss) Information Unknown
Contractor (Whipple Truss) Morse Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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