In 1878 the Hastings & Dakota continued the push west. It made it to Montevideo in western Minnesota by 1878, Ortonville on the Minnesota/South Dakota border by 1879, and Milbank, South Dakota by 1880. The only thing left was to connect the line more directly to Minneapolis. At the time, trains would have to go way south and take the long route back up to Minneapolis along the Milwaukee Road line to St. Paul from Farmington.
In 1880, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway purchased the Hastings & Dakota, and continued building west into South Dakota.
In 1882, the Milwaukee Road constructed the Shortline; a line which would cut the distance and time for passengers considerably. It would connect to the existing mainline at Cologne and end in a terminal in Saint Paul.
The downside of the mainline was the single track operations. Milwaukee Road had reached the Pacific Ocean at Seattle by 1912; hence changing the name to the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railway by 1928.
A series of improvements were constructed between 1912 and 1914, including new bridges and double track configurations for a majority of the line between Aberdeen, South Dakota and Saint Paul.
This route was critical for the Milwaukee Road. It was a middle leg in the Chicago-Pacific route that had been the result of over 50 years of planning and construction.
Despite the critical status of this line, much of the double track would be removed through the 1930s and 1940s. As the Milwaukee Road slipped further into debt; conditions worsened.
By 1985, the Soo Line Railroad purchased the Milwaukee Road. The Soo continued to operate this as a secondary mainline, due to the important connections.
Soo Line already had a line to the West coast from Minneapolis. They sold large sections west of Ortonville to Burlington Northern. But on July 26th 1991, the Twin Cities & Western would be born to operate 229 miles of track between Ortonville, Minnesota and Minneapolis.
While the TC&W operated to Ortonville, they only owned the tracks to Appleton. Past Appleton, Burlington Northern (now BNSF) owned the tracks.
Originally, the Short Line was used to connect TC&W trains to Saint Paul. In the mid-1990s, the route was rerouted around Cedar Lake and the former Shortline has become a trail and is now partially owned by Canadian Pacific.
Since 1991, the TC&W has grown steadily; returning solid service to a mainline that was once so critical to one of the Midwest's largest railroads.
This bridge was a small, yet historic Deck Plate Girder structure in Hopkins. It was located just east of Blake Road.
Built in 1912, the bridge sat on concrete abutments. While the southern span was a standard deck girder, the northern span was a more complex four beam girder. In addition, the abutments appear to have been built at different times, possibly indicating the original single track bridge was widened in 1912.
The four beam girder is typical of spans that were strengthened. The outer girders are considerably lighter than the other track, but the inner girders are much heavier than the outer girders. It is possible that some components of this bridge were reused from elsewhere, and could be considerably older than the 1912 build date.
It is also unknown when the bridge was strengthened. Further research will be conducted into this mystery.
However, No builder can be traced for the bridge.
In 2020, the bridge was unfortunately demolished, as well as the parallel Trail Bridge. The Southwest Light Rail "Green Line" project is requiring a complete reconstruction of this right of way.
At the time of demolition, the bridge was in fair to poor condition. Significant spalling and cracking had begun to form on the abutments, and the girders were starting to show age as well.
The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is as best of overview as can be had.