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Heartland Trail - Steamboat Lake Swing Bridge


Photo taken by Brad

View this photo on Flickr

BH Photo #241279


Street View 


Pony/through plate girder bridge over Steamboat Lake on Trail
Cass County, Minnesota
Open to pedestrians only
Built 1914
- Great Northern Railway (GN)
Pony plate girder
Approximate latitude, longitude
+47.26856, -94.62787   (decimal degrees)
47°16'07" N, 94°37'40" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/376862/5236294 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Steamboat Lake
Inventory number
BH 53877 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Built 1914 (801)
Built during 1910s (9,571)
Cass County, Minnesota (8)
Footbridge (422)
Girder (10,068)
Great Northern Railway (357)
Have street view (26,553)
Minnesota (1,504)
Movable (2,931)
Navigable waterway (2,137)
Open to pedestrians (4,122)
Owned by state (15,797)
Plate girder (7,793)
Rail-to-trail (1,501)
Railroad (15,307)
Swing (1,424)
Through girder (3,707)

Update Log 

  • May 30, 2018: Updated by John Marvig: Added Build Date from GN AFE Records
  • May 8, 2014: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • August 26, 2013: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • October 9, 2012: Added by Luke Harden


  • Luke
  • Douglas Butler
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com


Heartland Trail - Steamboat Lake Swing Bridge
Posted April 19, 2016, by John (stellerwine [at] aol [dot] com)

The last Indian war fought at Sugar Point (Leech lake) the Soldiers passed through this canal to the main lake. There was a book written locally about Nate Daily who owned a steamboat on Leech Lake which transported Soldiers. He claimed that the vessel was too heavy to clear some of the channels and Men tossed over items into the water to lessen the weight. I worked at the US Army Reserve center in Walker for many years and had photographs of brass mortar rounds that had been recovered during dredging operations (Onigum)(Roosevelt Canal). This was about 1976. The mortar rounds are at the Cass County museum, I gave them the photographs for their collection in 2013. I would suspect the swing bridge area to have the same historical artifacts as well to include troop encampments nearby.

Steamboat Lake Swing Bridge
Posted October 13, 2013, by John Marvig (johnmarvig [at] chaska [dot] net)

Looking at the current Google earth view, it appears that the timber approaches were replaced on this bridge during the summer of 2013

Steamboat Lake Swing Bridge
Posted November 26, 2012, by Phil Larson (phil [at] vesterheimgeo [dot] com)

This bridge is associated with the Great Northern Railway, not the Soo Line as suggested in the categories link.

The bridge is one of four similar bridges crossing navigable waters on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. Two extensively modified bridges are still in service on the BNSF Railway near Ball Club, MN, crossing the Mississippi and Ball Club Rivers. A fourth bridge crossing Kabekona Bay on Leech Lake was removed decades ago, with the mechanism supposedly being reused on the Alaska Railroad; the pilings are still visible. Building and maintaining swing spans across navigable waters may have been a requirement of the Congressional grants of rights-of-way across the Indian Reservation.

During the late 1890s, the Steamboat River saw fairly heavy traffic. However, construction of this stretch of the Great Northern Railway in 1899 obviated the need for water transportation, and ironically, the swing span was only used a few times. Despite this, it was kept in working order as recently as the late 1940s.