1 vote

UP - Salt River Bridge


Southern Pacific Railroad Bridge, Ash Avenue Bridge And Mill Avenue Bridge From Tempe Butte Looking Northwest

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #142873


Street View 


The bridge was completed in 1915 using spans fabricated in 1912 by the American Bridge Company. It was built for the Arizona Eastern Railroad, a subsidiary of the Southern Pacific Railroad (SP) - now the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). On Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 around 6 AM MST, a Union Pacific mixed freight train derailed heading North and the far South span collapsed onto the roadway below. A large fire ensued engulfing most of the bridge.


Pratt through truss bridge over Salt River on UP Railroad Tempe
Tempe, Maricopa County, Arizona
One span collapsed in derailment July 29, 2020; span expected to be replaced/rebuilt
Built 1915
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Arizona Eastern Railway (AZER)
- Southern Pacific Railroad (SP)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
9-span Pratt through truss
Also called
AZER - Salt River Bridge
SP - Salt River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+33.43358, -111.94391   (decimal degrees)
33°26'01" N, 111°56'38" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
12/412256/3699753 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 43031 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 29, 2020: Updated by Geoffrey Moreland: South Span Collapse due to derailment
  • January 8, 2018: Updated by Geoffrey Moreland: Date/Builder
  • October 4, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Riveted"
  • September 2, 2012: Updated by John Marvig: Added category "railroad"
  • August 25, 2010: New photos from Doug Kerr
  • April 18, 2010: New Street View added by Kim Harvey
  • March 4, 2010: Updated by Craig Philpott: Corrected GPS data
  • July 18, 2009: Added by Kim Harvey


  • Kim Harvey
  • HAER AZ-18 - Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge
  • HAER AZ-29 - Ash Avenue Bridge
  • Craig Philpott - craigphilpott63 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Doug Kerr
  • Royce and Bobette Haley - roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Geoffrey Moreland


UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted August 5, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

This article suggests that only the collapsed span needs to be replaced, which considering that half the bridge was on fire, is a pretty good outcome. https://www.rtands.com/rail-news/tempe-replaced-section-of-r...

UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted August 2, 2020, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I figured one or two of those spans closest to the one that collapsed were irreparably damaged... hopefully the rest of the trusses will remain.


UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted August 2, 2020, by George A Oakley (georgeoakley49 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Just read on the web by USA today that a portion of this bridge was imploded.Looks like it was the span next to the damaged one.There is also a video of the implosion.Don't know if this happened today or yesterday.

UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted July 29, 2020, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

This bridge also carries several pipelines. (Photo #114) I wonder what those pipelines carry? Anything flammable such as natural gas?

A big question for the FRA will be, what caused the derailment? Broken railcar wheel? Did the bridge sag? 115F ambient temperature causing rails to deform? Evidence may have been burned beyond figuring it out.

I hope the undamaged railcars can be detached and pulled away ASAP. Some contain unknown hazardous materials, not just lumber which will continue to fuel the fire for a long time. Is any of the lumber pressure-treated, which contains cyanide?

This bridge's predecessor also experienced a wreck in 1902, shown in Photo #12.

Life imitates art. See "The General" bridge http://bridgehunter.com/or/lane/the-general/

UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted July 29, 2020, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)
UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted July 29, 2020, by Matt Lohry

Looks like the southernmost truss span has collapsed.

UP - Salt River Bridge
Posted July 29, 2020, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)
Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge
Posted July 22, 2010, by J. Johnson (JJOh737018 [at] aol [dot] com)

Amazing how this bridge has withstood the test of time, and to think it will be 100 yrs old in 2012. Anyone knows if they will repaint or repair it, since it seems to be rusting out?

Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge
Posted July 2, 2010, by Craig Philpott (cphilpott [at] puc [dot] edu)

If you can provide some evidence of the 1912 construction date it would be very helpful.

Arizona Eastern Railroad Bridge
Posted July 2, 2010, by craig (whogger123 [at] q [dot] com)

I believe the arizona and eastern bridge was built in 1912.