Saturday, June 8, 2019

Flood of 2019: RCP&E/CP/DM&E/C&NW 1885+1928 Bridge over Bad River near Fort Pierre, SD

(Bridge Hunter; Satellite)

RCP&E = Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad, 2014 to present [G&W]
DM&E = Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad, 1986-2008 [american-railsicerail]

I was going to add this washout to "40 days and 40 nights," but I learned enough from this post, that I decided it is worthy of its own notes file. First of all, it taught me that it is not just Nebraska, Arkansas, and Oklahoma that are getting pounded by floods in May. South Dakota also has problems.

I found RCP&E's post for this washout. "Another mainline washout along the Bad River west of Ft Pierre, SD
This repair may take up to a month"
Chris Paciocco One of the reasons CNW pulled out of this line and same with CP Rail: tons of old bridges to maintain.


RCP&E = Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern and was created June 1, 2014 from the west end of the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern. DM&E which was created from Canadian Pacific assets. In 1928, this route was owned by the C&NW. It won Railway Age's 2019 Regional Railroad Award. [RailwayAge]

While looking for this bridge on a satellite map, I learned that the Missouri River goes all the way north into North Dakota and then turns west into a good part of Montana. I also learned that the RCP&E crosses the Bad River four times near Fort Pierre. I labeled these notes bridgeRare instead of bridgeTruss because all of the crossings are done with quadrangular lattice trusses.

It appears Bad River is aptly named.
RCP&E posted
RCP&E Mainline Washout near Philip, SD along the Bad River.
Starting from the mouth of the river, it was easy to rule out what Bridge Hunter calls #16 because it is a double span. I ruled out #15 because the river is too straight. Fortunately, I was following the river and railroad on a satellite map instead of a road map because #14 looked like a possibility. I'll discuss later why I think this bridge is #14. I ruled out numbers 11-13 because the above photos don't have an adjacent Bad River Road bridge. And I quit looking further upstream because the bridges are no longer "near" Fort Pierre.

The bridge in better days:
Jerry Huddleston Flickr Photo, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
I include Jerry's photo of the next bridge upstream to show how they are all quadrangular lattice trusses.
Jerry Huddleston Flickr Photo, License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)
"Built 1885 in Winona, Minnesota as a Mississippi River Crossing, Was once located in spans #12-16." [Bridge Hunter] That explains why all of the truss bridges on this route have an old design.

As to why I think it is #14 that has the washout. If you look at a road map image, the river used to go straight under this bridge.
Road Map
Since Google traced that river, it has developed a big meander on the west side. I can't decide if the top photo is looking South and the west meander got a lot bigger, or if the view is looking North and a big meander got created on the east side because the channel now goes under the bridge at such a sharp angle.
Using Global Earth, the river was still straight under the bridge in 1996. In 2004, it had developed a bend on the west side. Around 2009 and 2010, it bent some more. By 2014, it had bent even more. It looks like the above view was taken in 2017.

I added Bad River to a collection of meandering rivers.

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