Wednesday, June 7, 2017

1903+2013 BNSF/CB&Q/B&MR Bridge over Missouri River at Plattsmouth, NE

(1903 Bridge Hunter, 2013 Bridge Hunter, no Historic Bridges, Satellite)

The Burlington and Missouri River (B&MR), which was acquired by the CB&Q in 1872, built the original bridge in 1870. (Or 1880 [HAER-data]) The 1903 bridge was rebuilt in 1976. A photo in a Facebook posting brought these bridges to my attention. The posting explains that the new bridge handles loaded trains and the old one handles empties. The 1903 Bridge Hunter posting has a lot of photos of the new one as well as of the old one since they are next to each other.

I like this view because the man standing on the girder part on the Nebraska side shows the scale of the bridge. The length of the through-truss span over the navigation channel for both bridges is 400 feet.
Post Card View

Many of the pictures capture the differences in bridge construction techniques. Both use a macho through truss to span the navigation channel, The truss for the new bridge is deeper while the cord members are smaller, probably because modern steel is stronger. The new bridge does not use any V-lattice. For the other spans over the river and the flood plain, the old one uses deck trusses whereas the new one uses four steel girders. That photo also shows that the old bridge uses cut-stone piers while the new one uses reinforced concrete. (Reinforced concrete was still being developed as a construction material in the early 1900s.) In that photo we can also see that pin connected tie bars are still used for some of the bottom cords even though the bridge was rebuilt in 1976. This photo shows that for the short spans on Nebraska's river bluff side. the old bridge uses steel girders whereas the new one uses concrete girders.

Dave Blaze Rail Photography posted
Across The Muddy Missouri
Another frame from this unplanned bonus location last summer that I'm glad we did!
Excepting UP 4014, and the BNSF local at the caves the two big western Class 1s were more of an afterthought to last summer's trip with our goals focused on the KCS, A&M, DAIR and other shortlines. But as I've mentioned before we were opportunistic and if something was passing by or a cool location was convenient and we could squeeze it in we gave it a look. This is probably the top example of the latter and a place I'd always wanted to see but hadn't really connected where it was in relation to our planned itinerary. But on our trip north on Sunday toward South Dakota we had been paralleling BNSF's Napier Sub. In this photo I mentioned how we stopped at famed Pacific Junction ever so briefly:
What I didn't mention in that there were two trains lined up back to back pointed north. We weren't sure if or when one might be moving, but then as soon as the empty coal cleared the first one got the light and started to swing around to head west. It was only then that I tumbled to the fact that the famed Plattsmouth Bridge(s) over the Missouri River was only about five miles away. So we took off and crossed into Nebraska on the famed toll bridge and then guessed where the shot might be since none of us had ever been here and we only had moments to figure it out. A scramble up a hill revealed this view down on to the twin nearly 1700 ft long spans near MP 3.8 on BNSF's busy Creston Sub (ex CB&Q). Four GEs lead an unidentified manifest west into Nebraska as the nose catches some of the last rays of evening sun.
The left (upriver) span dates from 1903 having replaced the first 1880 crossing. In 2013 the BNSF opened this second span to increase speeds and capacity while relegating the older span to a siding. To learn a bit more check out these links: Plattsmouth Rail Bridge.html
Plattsmouth, Nebraska
Sunday August 29, 2021

Jeff McCrea commented on Dave's post

Samuel Brodersen posted
An empty coal train from Council Bluffs, IA races into the setting sun on approach to the Missouri River bridge in Plattsmouth, NE. Taken on 12/8/18.
Erich Houchens Train is crossing the new Missouri River bridge that BNSF built a few years ago. The old original CB&Q bridge is on the left. All coal, grain and Amtrak trains must use the new bridge as the old bridge is now restricted to general freight and empties. The train pictured is on the main with the siding (about nine thousand feet) on the old bridge. For some strange reason BNSF didn't bother to connect up CP Plattsmouth and CP Pacific Jct. which really would have helped through put on the Creston subdivision. This would have made total sense as loads would have gone up No.2 track Oreapolis to Balfour over the new bridge and empties would have run No.3 track Balfour to Oreapolis over the old bridge. Remembering my Nebraska division Omaha desk days ….
Josh Job They have been building an overpass just to the east of east river that gets rid of one of the major x'ings there. The rumor is that BNSF is paying for it so that they can extend the 2 mains from West P. Jct to East River or at least over halfway, to allow more trains to be parked and moved off the Napier and Council Bluffs subs as well as allowing more room at the bottom of Balfour hill.
osh Job Being a conductor that regularly traverses this area, I hope they do it. I also hope that they find a way to extend from West River to CP Plattsmouth. It'll be difficult since it's in the side of a huge hill with houses and building nearby, but if the railroad wants to accomplish something, they'll find a way.
Erich Houchens Josh Job Looking at Google Maps I see it's just over 3000 feet between South River and Plattsmouth. It looks like the Main Street underpass is wide enough for two tracks. Yes I does look like some dirt work is needed on the curve just east of Plattsmouth. Closing this gap as well as the North River to Pacific Jct. gap would give you a 20 mile stretch of two main track between Oreapolis and Balfour. This would have been very welcome during my Omaha Desk days as I frequently had west bounds sitting at PJ waits for slow coal trains grinding up hill. Of course with the decline in the number of coal fired power plants I wonder what the traffic levels are these days on the Creston subdivision.

Is Anand shared
Rob Nichols Shots taken with a long lens compresses the perspective. That "S" curve would have been built to accommodate whatever track speed was desired through the area of the new bridge.

Paul Yakob commented on Is' share
Crossing the Missouri River

Jeff Lewis posted
From the files of the anonymous bridge inspector (ABI) comes this gopher's eye view.
"This (Pin Connected Truss) Baltimore truss and (PCT) Baltimore deck truss in the photo are over the Missouri River in Plattsmouth Nebraska. The newer bridge was built in 2011 in anticipation of the original bridge, now a siding with 100 ton weight restrictions, we're to be torn down."
Bob Mason: Drove by this numerous times when I lived in Omaha. I met one of the BNSF's track inspectors and asked him about the old bridge and he said they decided to keep it as a siding because they could still run empty coal trains and empty grain trains across it. This crossing is still a bottleneck for the BNSF because there are short single track sections on both sides.

Don Wetmore shared
Amtrak #6 the California Zephyr in the deep cut at Plattsmouth, Nebraska.   Photo by Don Wetmore on March 13, 1994

Don Wetmore shared
Amtrak #6 the California Zephyr exits the deep cut at Plattsmouth, Nebraska to cross the Missouri River. Before they dug the cut there was a sharp curve at the end of the bridge and the tracks ran on the far side of the bluff at left.   Photo by Don Wetmore on March 13, 1994
Cate Kratville-Wrinn: Love this too! I used to own the Plattsmouth toll bridge behind it. My great grandpa built it.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Don's share
I wanted to check out the sharp curve you mentioned on the fifth photo. But the cut had already been dug in the oldest topo map I could find. I noticed that they had to build a non-trivial embankment on the flat Iowa side.   1956 Pacific Junction Quadrangle @ 1:24,000

Don Wetmore commented on his post
That's the original route. You can see both on Google.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Don's comment
Thanks for the correction. I will update my notes on this bridge. The 1969 and 1975 maps also show the old route.

Dennis DeBruler commented on Don's comment
The 1985 map shows the new route. You can also see the "white space" in the topo lines of the bluff where the old right-of-way was.
Don Wetmore: Dennis DeBruler You can see the dirt road on the old route.
[I think the dirt rode is closer to the river than the old route, but I'm not going to pick nits with Don. I checked the most recent topo I could find, 1993, but it doesn't show the dirt road.]

More comments

(new window) Tim Mort posted

Dennis DeBruler commented on Tim's post
 I didn't realize until I watched this video that they also had to build a massive retaining wall for the second track.,-95.../data=!3m1!1e3

"A 12-inch thick concrete wall, about 1,900 feet long and 45 feet high, was constructed along the Nebraska approach to the bridge, providing soil support through the area and minimizing erosion, the railroad said." [JournalStar]

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