UP Chippewa River Bridge

Pratt Deck Truss Bridge over Chippewa River
Eau Claire, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name UP Chippewa River Bridge
Built By Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By Union Pacific Railroad
Length 937 Feet Total, 182 Foot Main Spans
Width 2 Tracks
Height Above Ground 55 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Deck Truss and Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry and Steel Tower
Date Built 1911
Traffic Count 15 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
UP Bridge Number 86.10
Significance Moderate Significance
Between 1868 and 1872, the West Wisconsin Railway would construct 188 miles of track in western and central Wisconsin.
Starting in Elroy, the route would be constructed westwards, reaching Eau Claire by 1870. A short 10 mile branch was built between Warrens and Tomah in 1868.
By 1871, the route would reach Hudson. The same year, the St. Paul, Stillwater & Taylor Falls Railway would build a route between Hudson and St. Paul, Minnesota.
By 1878, the WW became part of the Chicago, St. Paul & Minneapolis Railway, which in turn became part of the Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway in 1880.
The Omaha road became controlled by the Chicago & North Western Railway upon formation.
A second main track was constructed along this route between Wyeville and St. Paul between 1911 and 1913, as part of an upgrade to the C&NW system.

The Omaha Road was leased by the C&NW in 1957, and was outright merged in 1972. The C&NW continued to operate this as a main track until 1995, when it was purchased by Union Pacific.
Today, Union Pacific operates this line as part of a main line to the Twin Cities.

This bridge is the successor of the Northwestern Bridge. This bridge was started in 1911 and opened August 6th 1912.
This bridge contains four main spans, all 7 panel pin connected double tracked Pratt deck trusses. In addition, it is approached by a single deck plate girder at 80 feet long from the west and an additional series of deck plate girders on the east, supported by steel towers.
The goal of this relocation was to increase speed through Eau Claire, and make the 1880 high bridge downstream obsolete. The new double tracked line eased grades and curves, and it was not uncommon for a very long time for trains to fly across this bridge at 70 MPH.
Currently, a basic inspection provides the information that the bridge is in great condition, with very little corrosion. The line is used heavily. The substructures are in great condition.
The best views are from Wells Road on the west end of the bridge, or from Domer Park, just upstream. The east side is very elusive and obscured.

The author has ranked this bridge as locally significant due to the design and age.
The photo above is looking from 1st Street. This shot just happened to pop as I drove by.

Chippewa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream CN Chippewa River Bridge
Downstream Northwestern Bridge


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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