4 votes

UP - Estherville Railroad Bridge



Photo taken 1997 by Jason Smith

BH Photo #101755



Deck truss bridge over West Fork Des Moines River on the Union Pacific Railroad in Estherville
Estherville, Emmet County, Iowa
Open to traffic
Built 1894
- Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway (BCRN)
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa Falls & Northern Railway (CRIF&N)
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (RI; CRIP; ROCK)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
1 x 46' DPG
4 x 32' DPG
1 x 123.5' Pratt Deck Truss
2 x 48.5' DPG
Length of largest span: 123.0 ft.
Total length: 532.0 ft.
Also called
RI - West Fork Des Moines River Bridge
BRCN - West Fork Des Moines River Bridge
UP - West Fork Des Moines River Bridge
CNW - West Fork Des Moines River Bridge
CRI&P Bridge #2073
UP Bridge 71.56
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.40540, -94.84385   (decimal degrees)
43°24'19" N, 94°50'38" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/350701/4807486 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 13449 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 1, 2016: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added info from RI track chart
  • December 29, 2014: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • August 29, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Burlington, Cedar Rapids & Northern Railway"
  • July 30, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added CRI&P bridge ID # in alt names.
  • May 10, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • April 25, 2012: New photos from Jason Smith
  • April 24, 2012: New photos from John Marvig
  • April 22, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Union Pacific Railroad"
  • March 23, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway"
  • July 19, 2011: Updated by Jason Smith: Bridge is still standing; railline abandoned
  • December 9, 2005: Posted photos and info from Jason Smith


  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Postcard
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Flickr - Bridge being used
  • Luke
  • Dylan VanAntwerp - dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com


Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 29, 2014, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)


I Came back because I had a spare day, and was after the shot that is now the default. Those 2012 photos aren't good quality, and I wanted to come back with snow on the ground. I think it paid off.


Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted December 29, 2014, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

Nice photos John! I see you already photographed this bridge in 2012. What made you come back to the area?

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted September 15, 2012, by Rick Evans (rick [at] rickathome [dot] com)

My dad (Dan Evans) fell off of that bridge when he was young and broke most of his toes (lucky that was all). He landed in the tall grass on the shore and made crutches out of wood from a hobo campsite there and made his way across the bridge and up to the road where he collapsed on the side of the road, just as his mother (Dorothy Evans) happened by in the car. Those from there would remember Mort (Mutt) and Dorothy Evans I'm sure.

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 23, 2012, by Anonymous

Yeah, like Luke said, there wasn't any arguing. It was just a friendly debate between a few people trying to figure out the best way to describe the builder and who used it...

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 23, 2012, by Call it GOGAR and call it a night

Why not just come to a compromise and call it the GOGAR Bridge?

Next you guys will be arguing about whether or not real metal was used in the construction.

"It looks like pot metal."

"No Bob Somebody told me he saw the original workers put in real iron."

"You are thinking of another bridge ..."


Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 23, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

This is all I am going to say. It is a good future refferance to call it the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific. Now this bridge probably never saw an M&STL train. Their line crossed with the CRIP on the south side of town...This would be the northern crossing...

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 23, 2012, by Anonymous

Grabbing some popcorn...this is gonna be good...

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 23, 2012, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Time out!

The reason why it was named the Rock Island or even the Rock was not only to make the name short (many sources have only used the Rock Island or the Rock to abbreviate the name) but also during the late 70s in a last ditch attempt to save the railroad company from bankruptcy and liquidation, the company tried to market itself as the Rock (of transportation), meaning the railroad had a large network and could serve their customers just as well as their counterpart. Unfortunately for financial reasons, the scheme failed, just like the failure to fuse with Chicago and Northwestern and Union Pacific.

In addition, the Rock Island line went from Mason City all the way to Sioux Falls via Estherville, Sibley and Rock Rapids. While the Sibley- Rock Rapids- Sioux Falls line was discontinued and abandoned in the early 1970s, Chicago and Northwestern took over the line east of Sibley and kept it in operation until the end of the 1990s. Shortly afterwards, a local investment group bought the line and wanted to introduce passenger train service, but lack of interest forced its withdrawl in 2005. The line today terminates west of Superior, while interest is gathering to convert the line going through Spirit Lake into a bike trail. At the moment, there has been no reports of whether it will happen or not.

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted April 22, 2012, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

Several things. First,

The bridge was built 1894 by the Rock Island, a date engraving in a stone would prove this.


The bridge is still active, as I saw a train crossing it in late April 2012, and the rails were shiny.

Estherville Railroad Bridge
Posted October 6, 2010, by Terrell (incoming [at] charter [dot] net)

From 1956 to 1962 I used to walk across that bridge on the way to downtown. Junior high school, movies or whatever. If you didn't walk across it you had to down the road and walk across a footbridge or down to the highway to cross it.

I once road in a Rock Island caboose over it to Sioux Falls and back.