2 votes

RI - Little Blue River Bridge


West End

This is the railroad west side(north according to the compass) of the bridge.

Photo taken by Brian Long in October 2009


BH Photo #148383


Some notes on this rail line 

Written by Clark Vance

About a half mile west of the junction of Noland and Colbern Roads is a turn to the south on to the road to Vale. Currently along the road there are a couple of large business properties doing light manufacturing. Until at least the '70s there were abandoned frame buildings and an old brick building, perhaps a store, at the end of the road. Only its floor remains. Prior to the completion of the trail the actual rail was not walkable, heavily overgrown with thirty year old trees and partially washed out. There is a raised embankment to the west of the easement where there may have been a couple of sidings years ago if old maps can be relied on. If instead of heading south you turn north, it's roughly a half mile to the Vale Tunnel.

This line passes through Raytown to the north and according to one Raytown history website, it reached the city in 1903. The last paint date on the bridge is 6-56 and an older date might be a 23.

This rail line was inactivated in the early '80s but has not been abandoned. There was controversy some years ago over whether trains could ever run on this line again. Residences had been built adjacent to the track and the city of Raytown even cut through the grade to realign a road to bypass a narrow underpass. In 1998 the federal Surface Transportation Board ruled that the line was still railroad property and could be used to operate trains in the future. Hence this line is referred to as "inactive" rather than "abandoned". See: http://members.tripod.com/mo_central_rail/stb.html

In 2010 the condition of the rail between this bridge and Vale was terrible. It was heavily overgrown and much of the ballast and a number of ties had washed away due to flooding. The rail itself appeared intact but some had come loose and tipped over. Other sections were unsupported for several feet where ties and ballast were gone. As of 2020 the rails and ties have been removed and replaced with a graveled trail. Access to the bridge is simple.

This rail line enters Jackson County from Pleasant Hill to the south, passes through Greenwood, then to the west of Lee's Summit, and through Raytown before joining the yards at Leeds. The Vale tunnel and several of the bridges along the line probably date to the opening of the line.


Deck plate girder bridge over Little Blue River on former Rock Island Trail
Jackson County, Missouri
Open to pedestrians only
Future prospects
Now owned by Jackson County, currently opened as rail trail.
Built 1903; Converted to trail use 2019
- American Bridge Co. of New York (Fabricator)
- Stubbs-Flick-Johnson Construction Co. of Kansas City, Missouri (Erector)
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (CRIP (1866-1920); RI (1920-1975) ROCK (1975-1980))
An 80' deck plate girder with 50' approach spans on each side.
Length of largest span: 80.0 ft.
Total length: 180.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+38.93814, -94.43819   (decimal degrees)
38°56'17" N, 94°26'17" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/375353/4310895 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Lees Summit
Inventory numbers
Bridge 2771 on track chart
BH 43569 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 23, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: added information
  • December 1, 2013: Updated by Clark Vance: Additional data
  • October 17, 2010: Essay added by Clark Vance
  • October 31, 2009: Added by Brian Long

Related Bridges 


  • Brian Long
  • Clark Vance - cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com


Little Blue River Railroad Bridge
Posted January 14, 2012, by Kelly McClanahan (KMCCLA [at] aol [dot] com)

Actually, Ameren Electric Company owns the line up Pleasant Hill, not Lee's Summit. The part from Pleasant Hill, east to the KATY Trail will be a rail trail as an access to the area. Part of the line has been pulled up as of mid 2011. The line east (north) to Kansas City (via Lee's Summit and Raytown) is still owned by the UP. There is current talks of a possibility of reopening the KC/P-Hill part for light rail, but that remains to be seen.

Little Blue River Railroad Bridge
Posted January 13, 2011, by Renton (rentonthurston_e7 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Ameren Electric Company owns this line up to Lees Summit and they are letting the state build a trail along side these tracks most likely meaning they will restore the tracks from UP's connection to Windsor....how long it will be before a train can run from KC to STL on the line again is unknown but ameren indicated they wanted this to happen. The line feeds their power plant in labadie as well as the lake of the ozarks.

Little Blue River Railroad Bridge
Posted February 23, 2010, by Matt (tgrbtr [at] comcast [dot] net)

There has been so many rumors on this line being reopened by the Union Pacific. I used to work in Raytown and it was all the buzz when the city removed a bridge to widen a street. Then Lees Summit came into the picture when some home owners got a letter stating that the UP still owned the rail line and they ( home owners ) had built on railroad property. The latest I heard was that the state wanted to purchase the line for some sort of extension of the Katy trail. I think it could be used for some sort of light rail to connect downtown with the sports complex.

Little Blue River Railroad Bridge
Posted February 2, 2010, by jack (jackkav [at] sbcglobal [dot] net)

is UPRR going to reuse this bridge and line?