9 votes

BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge


Elevated Oblique View

Photo taken by Mike Jensen in Fall 2008


BH Photo #179972


Street Views 


BNSF's Bismarck Bridge Needs Replacement

BNSF video on proposed replacement of bridge

BNSF Railway


BNSF Railroad has announced plans to replace and demolish this bridge, in a plan expected to take several years for permits and construction.

Bridge named to National Trust for Historic Preservation's "11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2019".


Pennsylvania through truss bridge over Missouri River on BNSF Railway
Bismarck, Burleigh County, North Dakota, and Morton County, North Dakota
Open to traffic
Future prospects
Built 1905, reusing the piers from an 1882 bridge
- Ralph Modjeski of Bochnia, Poland (Chief Engineer)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)
- Northern Pacific Railroad (NP)
Pennsylvania through truss
Length of largest span: 400.0 ft.
Total length: 1,525.0 ft.
Also called
Missouri River High Bridge
Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+46.81801, -100.82682   (decimal degrees)
46°49'05" N, 100°49'37" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/360645/5186560 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 44455 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • April 10, 2020: New video from Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • May 30, 2019: Updated by Roger Deschner: Listed by National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • October 24, 2017: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Updated replacement plans, added new media article
  • May 20, 2017: New photos from John Marvig
  • April 6, 2017: Updated by Luke: Doomed (Possibly)
  • March 17, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 25, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added categories "Pin-connected", "Riveted"
  • August 25, 2016: New photo from Ethan Akerly
  • December 4, 2014: Photo imported by Dave King
  • June 27, 2014: New Street View added by Ralph Demars
  • April 1, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added Ralph Modjeski as Chief Engineer and approximate span length.
  • March 27, 2014: Updated by Dave King: Added approach designs
  • March 12, 2012: Updated by Daniel Hopkins: Added category "Railroad"
  • March 10, 2012: New photo from Craig Philpott
  • September 28, 2010: New photo from Nathan Holth
  • March 14, 2010: Added by James Baughn

Related Bridges 



BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted February 25, 2020, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)
BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted February 24, 2020, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Not sure how this was never posted here, but today is the last day for comments to the US Coast Guard regarding this bridge:


BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted August 27, 2019, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Changing an alignment affects culverts, signal posts, etc, as well as non-railroad infrastructure such as sewer lines, power lines, etc. When drawing up plans for something like this every detail must be included. Each has a cost.

The cost of a new alignment is weighed against the cost of removing the old bridge plus any lost traffic while the line is closed.

BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted August 27, 2019, by Daniel

It would impact 500 structures? That sure doesn't sound reasonable to me.

Given the already tight radius on the East end, I don't see why the curve on the West end couldn't be tightened somewhat to place the new alignment somewhat North of the existing bridge, and then rejoin the existing track East of the bridge. I'd think that could be done without impacting *any* structures.

Or am I missing something?

BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted August 27, 2019, by Alexander D. Mitchell IV


Aug. 19, 2019

"BNSF is telling the people of Bismarck, N.D., that if they want this baby they are going to have to take care of it for the rest of its life.

A 136-year-old rail bridge that spans across the Missouri River is at the center of controversy. A group of citizens wants it restored and converted to a pedestrian/bike bridge, but BNSF would rather demolish the structure and put a new one in its place.

A study done by North Dakota State University landscape architecture professors says the converted bridge route can be done, but it will cost $6.9 million. However, BNSF is claiming other costs associated with the bridge preservation. The Class 1 says leaving the existing bridge where it is and building a new one would impact about 500 structures and cost another $8 million in mitigation measures. Then there is any upkeep moving forward. Friends of the Rail Bridge, a group in favor of keeping the old bridge, has no funds tied up for the project, but did use a $10,000 grant on the feasibility study.

A new rail bridge is still on the horizon, it is just a question of alignment. BNSF wants to demolish the 136-year-old and build a new rail bridge, which will require permits from the U.S. Coast Guard.

BNSF also says a pedestrian bridge so close to an active railroad bridge (30 ft) is cause for concern with the threat of derailments or debris falling from trains. The bridge also sits on shallow foundations and is non-redundant, meaning if one part of the bridge fails the entire span collapses.

BNSF claims it filed its concerns with the authors of the feasibility study, but those concerns were not addressed."

BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted May 30, 2019, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

National Trust for Historic Preservation has named this bridge on its "11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2019". You can see the list, a photo of the bridge, and a link to a petition to save the bridge, at https://savingplaces.org/stories/11-most-endangered-historic...

This is a great honor for those working to preserve this landmark bridge, as they continue to fight to save it.

BNSF - Missouri River High Bridge
Posted December 5, 2017, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Some optimistic news regarding the future of this bridge:


A petition has been created to save the bridge:


Bismarck Railroad Bridge
Posted May 6, 2010, by Mike Jensen (mikejensen [at] hotmail [dot] com)

picture I took in the fall of 2008.