2 votes

WBR - Winona Bridge


Overall View Of Bridge. View To Northeast

C. B. Fraser for the Historic American Engineering Record, 1985

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #410664



Winona's second railroad bridge was built by railroads competing with the C&NW, which owned the first bridge upstream at Downtown Winona. The Winona Bridge Railway was an independent railroad, which owned only this bridge and its approaches, and was required by its charter to allow any train across that paid the toll. Through bankruptcies and mergers, eventually the Burlington Northern, and Green Bay & Western were the only lines left paying to use it, with BN owning 2/3 of the stock and GBW owning 1/3. Due to light load limits and a deteriorating approach trestle, the bridge was closed in 1985. The swing span burned on December 17, 1989 (Photo of fire at link below), and what was left was demolished in 1990. Fortunately HAER was able to fully document it with photos taken in August 1985, just before abandonment. One of the HAER photos shows a train on the bridge.

WBR apparently still exists as a corporate entity, as a subsidiary of BNSF, though it doesn't own a bridge or any track anymore. Some BN locomotives were reportedly seen carrying WBR reporting marks for a while in the 1970s and 80s.


Lost Through truss bridge over Mississippi River on Winona Bridge Railway
Winona, Winona County, Minnesota, and Buffalo County, Wisconsin
Opened August 1, 1891; abandoned 1985; swing span burned December 17, 1989, remainder demolished 1990
- Union Bridge Co. of Buffalo, New York & Athens, Pennsylvania
- Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
- Green Bay & Western Railroad (GB&W)
Through truss swing span with camelback Pratt truss approach spans
Length of largest span: 360.0 ft.
Total length: 2,630.0 ft. (0.5 mi.)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.04525, -91.60503   (decimal degrees)
44°02'43" N, 91°36'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/611755/4877844 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Winona East
Inventory number
BH 79402 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 11, 2017: Added by Roger Deschner



WBR - Winona Bridge
Posted November 11, 2017, by Anonymous


WBR Winona Bridge Railway
Posted November 11, 2017, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

So, what's my deal with all these bridges in Winona MN? I've passed through three times in the past year, and each time I find another fascinating current or historical bridge. This bridge is one of the most interesting, with a complicated history and good written and photographic records. I'm sure there's yet more to find when I make it back to this picturesque old river town. Which I plan to do when the rehab of the 1942 highway bridge is complete in 2018.