Friday, June 26, 2020

1905 BNSF/NP Bridge over Missouri River at Bismark, ND

(Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; John Weeks III3D Satellite)

"Built 1905, reusing the piers from an 1882 bridge." [Bridge Hunter]

BNSF is going to build a new bridge. It wants to replace this one. Some citizens want the new bridge to be on a new alignment so that this bridge can become a trail.

Street View, Aug 2019
[This is another reminder that the nation got a lot of rain in 2019.
This post taught me to try to get a street view from I-94.]

I was surprised the Missouri is so wide this far north.
John Weeks III

USGS-keelboat, (Credit: Brent R. Hanson, USGS. Public domain.)
The Missouri River flooding Keelboat Park and Keelboat Boat Ramp in Bismarck, ND. In the background is the Burlington Northern SantaFe Railway Bridge.

USGS-tie-gang, (Credit: Brent R. Hanson, USGS. Public domain.)
A tie gang traveling to the site to change ties or traveling away to pack up for the night. Tie gangs are part of the maintenance crew.
[Note that during this June 9, 2011, flooding the ice breakers on the piers are almost covered.]


Brian Ambrose updated
Rich Wallace There is a theory that when you leave a location, the train will come. Seems to have been my experience when I have seen others shots who were also at that location. Now I try to get them to leave. Ha!
Dennis DeBruler I was at Union Depot in Joliet to meet my uncle and his railfan friends. BNSF was dead. I kidded them that I'd go check out Brandon Lock so that the trains would start coming. Sure enough, they did come after I left.

Brian Ambrose posted
Well I got my shot at the Missouri River bridge this morning. But the clear blue skies were gone replaced by bright overcast. Instead of going straight to the bridge I went down into Mandan to see if anything was there ready to go east. I should have done that yesterday! But while driving there I heard the dispatcher on my scanner talking to a westbound already west of Mandan saying they'd be meeting two eastbounds at Lyons. Ah, there were two coming at least. But checking Mandan I found there was already an eastbound autorack train here and figuring it would have to leave before the other two eastbounds arrived I had better get up to the bridge now. Arrived at the bluff and back to my spot from yesterday, set up the camcorder, and horns blowing from the west. It was almost here! Single SD70ACe up front of the long autorack and no DPU on the rear. Not sunny but at least I got something. It was 80 and rather humid too.
Paul Birkholz Perhaps empties going to storage with just one unit?
Richard Olson Nice, and the autoracks help keep your eye following the train beyond the bridge.
Brian Ambrose Good point. Coal hoppers or grain cars would not have had the same effect.

This was a popular railfan location.
Jim Kleeman posted
A new crew has just hopped on board the head end of a loaded Powder River coal train in Mandan, ND. They new lead their three EMD SD60s (9020/9026/9055) across a not-so-wide Missouri River onto the BNSF Jamestown Subdivision. Next stop Dilworth, MN. We're overlooking the action at 8:50 AM on 9/24/2004 in Bismark, ND.

These 1882 piers are made with granite. The spans were built in 1905. [John Weeks III]
Brian Ambrose updated
Brian Ambrose And this is the second train of the morning approaching the bridge from down below along a walking trail. Now it is raining, and 78 humid degrees.
Jim Weisenbach Icky weather... sounds like 'home' (NJ)
Dennis DeBruler A nice view of the ice breaker on the pier.
Maybe BNSF would be better off moving the new bridge to a new alignment.
Based on a paper written by Ed Murphy of the ND Geological Survey, the railroad (first Northern Pacific, and now BNSF), have had endless problems with the eastern pier of the High Bridge. Just after completion, the east pier began shifting towards the Missouri River at a rate of 3 to 3-1/2 inches per year. A number of repairs were attempted, but none seemed to work. In 1898, the pier was dug out and moved back onto a larger foundation. By 1902, the pier was already 4 inches off center. After further investigation, it was suspected that the city water reservoir located on a hill above the railroad track was leaking large amounts of water, causing the entire hillside to slide towards the river. The NP built a tunnel under the area to try to drain the water, but the pier continued to move. More projects were completed in 1918, 1923, and 1940 to try to slow down the landslide. In 1951, the NP undertook a major project to cut down the hill and regrade the area. This helped the situation by slowing down the movement to 1/3 of an inch per year, but did not stop the movement. [John Weeks III]
According to John Weeks, BNSF runs most of their trains over the former GN route. This NP route became busy hauling Powder River Basin Coal. But that traffic is drying up as coal-fired power plants are being converted to gas or shuttered. So the cost of stopping traffic on this route while they replace the bridge might not be high enough to help save the old bridge with a new alignment.

Michael D Thoreson posted three photos with the comment: "A loaded coal train crosses the Missouri river bridge between Mandan and Bismarck, ND on Sunday morning, 9/19[/2021]."



(new window)

3 photos with a standard cab BN livery locomotive

safe_image for Rail bridge dispute continues
"The bridge was completed in 1883 making it almost 140 years old."
Dennis DeBruler: 1883 would be the date for the predecessor bridge:
This bridge has a date of 1905:
However, the piers are from the older bridge.

safe_image for Preservation group working to save historic railroad bridge over Missouri River
The 1883 railroad bridge was “crossed in the early years by notables including former presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Theodore Roosevelt, as well as Sitting Bull.”

A rendering of proposed changes to the 1883 [actually, 1905] Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge, including a walking and biking path. The group Friends of the Rail Bridge maintains the historic bridge and a new BNSF bridge can coexist.
Contributed / Friends of the Rail Bridge

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