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Westminster Junction Tunnel #2

Stone Arch Tunnel over BNSF Railway
Saint Paul, Ramsey County, Minnesota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Westminster Junction Tunnel #2
Built By Chicago, St. Paul, Minneapolis & Omaha Railway
Built By St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 30 Feet Total (Estimated)
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 20 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Stone Arch Tunnel
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1888
Traffic Count (Carried) 15 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1862, the first railroad in Minnesota would be constructed by the St. Paul & Pacific Railway to connect Minneapolis and St. Paul, following what is today the midway area.
This short 10 mile segment would be critical to the growth of Minnesota.
Eventually, the line would be extended to the west towards Fargo, North Dakota; and to the north towards Duluth, Minnesota.
In 1879, the St. Paul & Pacific was purchased by the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway.
This railroad began rapid expansions throughout Minnesota and the surrounding areas, and eventually became a part of the Great Northern Railway in 1890.
The railroad used this segment as a critical line, with connections to several other lines. Industries began to pop up along the line, and it began to rival the Northern Pacific, only a few blocks to the north.
Both lines connected with the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy, as well as Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railroads in Saint Paul, which served as a connection to Chicago.

By 1970, the Great Northern, Northern Pacific and CB&Q merged together to form the Burlington Northern Railroad, a major freight hauler in the midwest.
Throughout the next two decades, many of the yard tracks and industries would be torn down on this segment.
In 1996, the BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to form BNSF Railway, which currently operates the line as the Midway Subdivision.
The line is a complementary line to the St. Paul Subdivision, formerly the Northern Pacific mainline. This line serves more industries and yards, including a massive intermodal yard at Energy Park.

Today, the line also provides a major thoroughfare for oil heading towards Chicago from North Dakota.
06/26/21


One of four bridges and tunnels at Westminster Junction, this stone arch is the eastern of the twin structures north of Phalen Boulevard.
Built for a connecting track between the Omaha Road and St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba to cross the Northern Pacific, the bridge currently carries a BNSF track over a BNSF track.
Built in 1888, this small tunnel is actually classified as a stone arch, due to the overall width of the structure (70 feet).
Listed officially as being tunnel #2 in a Northern Pacific bridge book, it is believed the bridge was not completed until 1889. At one time, five total tunnels existed at Westminster Street. Today, four remain.
The bridge is also next to the northwest bridge, which features a concrete slab southern face, with a stone arch northern face. These two bridges share a northern portal, effectively forming a double portal. However, due to the dangerous nature of active railroad tracks and trespassing, the northern face could not be photographed.
Overall, the bridge appears to remain in great condition, and should continue to serve traffic for many years to come.
A sign at the junction indicates that these four tunnels were vital to the growth of the St. Paul railroad network. Before the construction of this two level junction, a major bottleneck existed.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the economic impact these four tunnels had on the City of St. Paul and the railroad companies that built them.
The photo above is an overview.

Citations

Source Type

Source

Build Date Date Inscription
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele



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