Friday, February 5, 2016

UP/C&NW/CGW Robert Street Lift Bridge over Mississippi in St. Paul, MN

Someday I'm going to have to study how the Chicago Great Western Railroad went from Chicago to the Twin Cities. I always thought of the CGW as another railroad that went between Chicago and Omaha. Today it is owned by the Union Pacific since it bought the C&NW in 1995, and the C&NW acquired the CGW in 1969. A predecessor of CGW in this area was the Chicago, St. Paul & Kansas City Railway. [Journal of the Western Society of Engineers, Volume 8, p 437]

"Built 1913 replacing a swing bridge, raised 1925, rebuilt over Warner Road 1956."

John A. Weeks III, looking south from Kellogg Avenue in St. Paul.
This lift bridge was completed in 1912 [Historic Bridges] or in 1913 [Bridge Hunter, John Weeks] to replace a swing bridge (see below). The Waddell and Harrington lift span is 192' long and the girder spans are 70'. Because the bridge is on an angle, the navigation channel width is only 158'. In 1925, the north end was raised 16 feet to tie in with the rail lines that served the Saint Paul Union Depot. [Bridge Hunter, Historic Bridges, John Weeks] "In the first decade of the 21st century, this is one of three operating lift bridges on the Mississippi River. The other two are located at Hastings, Minnesota, and Hannibal, Missouri." [John Weeks]

Conner Blaukat posted
Great Western Lift Bridge (Foreground) and Roberts Street Bridge (Background) in Saint Paul, MN

Kevin Piper posted
Two SOO GP30's cross the Mississippi River at St. Paul, MN, on 8-16-74. PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN

This closeup to catch the engines on the lift span shows the special metal bents mentioned by Historic Bridges that were added to the concrete piers to obtain the 16' lift at the north end. It also shows that the closest pier has been severely eroded by the river.
John A. Weeks III
The first locomotive is "a General Motors EMD model SD40-2 locomotive. It is a diesel-electric locomotive that is able to generate 3,000 horsepower. This unit is an early SD40-2, which was built in late 1972. Nearly 4,000 SD40-2 were built between 1972 and 1986."

John Briese posted
I caught this UP coal train snoozing on the old CGW bridge in
St. Paul today. It's nice to see the bridge still in regular use.
Joe Hughes Snif. On various business trips to the Twin Cities, I have waited literally hours for a shot like this. Congratulations on nailing it!

Henry Jansen posted
After a cloudy afternoon on January 21 this year [2021], a cold front moved in, causing a crystal-clear sky. This happened just before I heard Canadian Pacific's H37 crew over the radio indicating they were at the St. Paul Yard with a pair of SD60s for power. I had the perfect amount of time to move into position for a photo of them crossing the Robert Street Lift Bridge in downtown St. Paul - a shot I had wanted to take for a while.
H37 is known informally as the "Soo Northfield Job," a name from the Soo Line era that obviously stuck around. It originates in the St. Paul Yard and gets on the Union Pacific at the "Robert Street" control point, located just before the bridge starts on the north side of the river. It then crosses the Mighty Mississippi into Union Pacific's South St. Paul Yard, which it runs through on the way to Rosemount. Down there, it makes a set out for Progressive Rail before continuing south to Northfield, where it interchanges with Progressive Rail again. Work stops there for the night, and the next day, the rested crew takes it back to St. Paul. Canadian Pacific technically owns the trackage between Rosemount and Comus (south of Northfield), which Soo Line inherited from the Milwaukee Road's Mendota-to-Austin line. However, it is maintained and dispatched by Union Pacific as part of its Albert Lea Sub.
The aforementioned SD60s were both originally Soo Line units. CP 6231 and CP 6222 were built as SOO 6031 and SOO 6022, respectively. They were delivered in the "hockey stick" livery and wear Soo Line's Candy Apple Red color today, albeit with Canadian Pacific lettering. In the background of the photo is the 1926-built Robert Street Bridge and the Hyatt Place St. Paul/Downtown building. You can see more of the train in the far right of the frame, as well as part of Union Depot.
The Robert Street Lift Bridge has been an iconic feature of downtown St. Paul for over a century. It was built in 1913 by Waddell & Harrington, contracted by the St. Paul Bridge and Terminal Railway (StPB&T) to replace the previous through-truss swing bridge. It is the northernmost vertical lift bridge on the Mississippi River, and one of only a small handful on the entire mid-American shipping artery. The lifting action is facilitated by concrete counterweights in the 105-foot-high main towers. Six-foot risers were installed between the concrete piers and deck girder spans in 1925, leveling the track with the elevated lines serving Union Depot and avoiding washouts. The north approach over Warner Road was redone in 1955. Chicago Great Western (CGW), which leased the StPB&T in 1935, was bought out by the Chicago & North Western Railway in 1968, which itself was acquired by Union Pacific in 1995. The bridge tender house is painted in a dull gray, but once wore traditional CGW depot colors; red with cream trim.
Henry Jansen shared
Henty commented on his post
The original through-truss swing bridge in 1898. Above it is the original road bridge, too. There are some boxcars visible in the bottom left of the frame. I downloaded this picture from the Saint Paul Historical website at

Published prior to 1923
Note that the road bridge back then used to be a truss bridge built in 1885.

Published prior to 1923

Credit line: Photographs in the Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.
Carol M. Highsmith's photographs are in the public domain.
Marty Bernard posted
NP NW2 104 in June 1964 in St. Paul with Old Man River.
Peter Wolfgram: NP to CGW State Street Yard transfer.
Marty Bernard shared
Marty Bernard posted
C&NW SW1200 315 built July 1960, BU6 ex-MSTL NW1 built Aug. 1938, and a Bay Window Caboose along the Mississippi River in St. Paul, MN on June 17, 1964.

John Briese posted
Greg Smith added this to Minnesota Railroads page (no photographer info). Too cool not to be here...where it belongs.
Greg Smith posted a B&W version
Ken Zieska What a great lash up of power.
Kirk Brust 1-2-3-4-5-6... It's a CGW thing.

Leo Walding posted
This post was taken from the website Minnesota Railroads. It is a UP freight traveling over the Mississippi River at downtown St Paul. I have viewed many photos of St Paul railroading but this is my all time favorite.

Dennis Kilbride posted
Downtown St Paul Minnesota May 2008 Robert Street Lift Bridge over Mississippi River. Owned and operated by Union Pacific RR.
Dennis commented on his posting
Here's a side pic of it.

Dennis commented on his posting
July 2014 Mississippi was up quite a bit, you can see how high the logs jammed up against it.
Jordan Palmer commented on Dennis' posting
One of my favorite bridges in the Twin Cities, every once in awhile I time it right to catch a towboat passing underneath.
Leo Walding posted
CNW lift bridge. Downtown St. Paul Minnesota spanning Mississippi. Automobile bridge is Robert St. bridge.
John Boots It is the Robert Street Lift Bridge. Originally operated by the Chicago Great Western prior to being taken over by the CNW. Nice Pic.

Bill Neill shared a photo of Marty Bernard's post of three photos of a GN transfer backing across the bridge.
Bart Culbertson Roberts St Bridge ex C&NW / UP bridge over the Mississippi River between St Paul Minneanapolis.
Marty shared his post
Scott Millsap Bill Dobbin good ole’ NW2’s
Bill Dobbin When you must move without a doubt an over tonnage train there Scott... Accept no substitutes.

One of three photos posted by Marty Bernard
A Great Northern Transfer Run in St. Paul, MN on June 17, 1964.
The power was GN 147 an NW2, EMD builder number 2477. She became BN 484, was retired 4/29/1982, sold to Diesel Supply Co. 7/23/1982, then went to Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Ry.
Backing the transfer off the bridge. All boxcars!

safe_image for Downtown St. Paul is likely going to lose its historic railroad lift bridge
Dennis DeBruler
I wish they spelled Nathan Holth's name correctly and provided a link this this bridge rather than a generic link to his site.
BTW, the first lift bridge designed by Waddell was the 1894 bridge for Halsted Street across the South Branch in Chicago, but it is no longer standing.
I see Portland's bridges were built in 1910 and 1912.

UP wants to replace the lift bridge with a rolling bridge.
UP via MinnPost

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