Minnesota Highway 7 Underpass

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Minnesota Highway 7
Hopkins, Hennepin County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Minnesota Highway 7 Underpass
Built By Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway
Contractor Minnesota Highway Department of St. Paul, Minnesota
Currently Owned By Hennepin County Regional Railroad Authority
Length 90 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1934
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
M&StL Bridge Number 3
Significance Local Significance
In 1879, the M&STL charted and built line from Hopkins MN, where it had a Junction with the 1st subdivision to Winthrop, where it ended. It went through Excelsior, Victoria and Waconia before coming to Norwood, where it crossed the Hastings & Dakota, later the Milwaukee Road.

It then continued through Hamburg, Green Isle, Arlington and Gaylord before finally coming into Winthrop.
In 1883, the line continued west. It then went through Gibbon, Fairfax and Franklin before it's end at Morton. One big obstacle for the M&StL to push even further west was the Minnesota River.

By 1884, another railroad beat the M&StL to it. The Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific railway built west to Watertown South Dakota in 1884.
That really didn't matter. By the late 1885, the M&StL took over the WM&P.

The line from Hopkins to Morton was named the 11th Subdivision. It saw between 5 and 6 trains a day, and was signaled. This line was like most lines that follow 1 road. This line followed MN 5/25 for a while, then MN 19 from Gaylord to Morton.

In 1960, the Chicago Northwestern took over the M&StL which expanded their vast trackage around Minnesota.

In 1982, the CNW abandoned the tracks from Norwood to Watertown, SD , and the Minnesota Valley Railroad (MNVA) picked up the tracks from Norwood west to Morton. Other RR's picked up the tracks west of Morton.

MNVA had little success on the line. They abandoned the tracks in 2000. The other railroads west of Morton abandoned the line too. BNSF took over the switch at Hanley Falls, and they now operate to Madison, MN.

On April 12th 2002, Twin Cities & Western Railroad (current owner of the old Milwaukee Road line through Norwood) took employees on a trip to Franklin MN (east of Morton) The track was in very bad condition. Over the summer of 2002, new ties were added, ballast added and trestles maintained and inspected. MPLI began full operations on the line in October 2002.

The rail line was renamed Minnesota Prairie Line, and it is a subsidiary of TC&W. They took control of 94 miles of track from Norwood to Hanley Falls.

In 2008, a request was made to the State of Minnesota to replace the rails to heavy rail. They asked for $70 Million to replace rails, tie plates, ties and rail spikes. It costs about $500,000 per mile to replace this. Not to mention a trestle or two or many that may need repair.

Since then, new rail has been added between Norwood and Winthrop. Now ethanol trains from Winthrop can operate at 25MPH, instead of the old 7MPH.

Track will be replaced further west over time.

As for the part from Norwood to Hopkins, it is an abandoned grade from Norwood to Victoria, and is now a trail from Victoria east to Hopkins.

Wish the Minnesota Prairie Line good luck on this Historic line brought back from near death! And for the trail, it should have a good future as a trail and possibly a rebirth as a lightrail.

This standard through girder bridge crosses over Minnesota Highway 7 in Hopkins.
Built in 1934, it is apparent that this bridge was built during a time of rebuilding. Another overpass approximately 3 miles east was built in the same year.
The Minnesota Highway Department was commonly designing and fabricating bridges in the 1930s. It is unknown who produced the components, but it is apparent that this bridge was erected by the highway department for the railroad.
Consisting of a single through girder, the bridge rests on concrete abutments. The bridge appears to be in fair condition, with a fair amount of abutment deterioration.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Minnesota Highway Department plaque
Contractor Minnesota Highway Department plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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