5 votes

BNSF - Old Galveston Causeway


North Approach

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in February 2011


BH Photo #193872

Street View 


Auto and rail causeway. Now rail traffic only. Original railroad owner was Gould Lines, Harriman Lines & Santa Fe. The original bascule span was reportedly completed in 1911 by Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. It had two standard railroad tracks and the interurban track that also doubled as the automobile crossing.

A new single track 124-5 length bascule span was opened in 1988 and the 1911 bascule was removed.

The 1988 Bascule span was replaced with modern 383' lift bridge in 2012. The 1988 bascule was sold, reconditioned and moved to Petaloma CA


Modern lift bridge with concrete arch approach spans over Galveston Bay on BNSF Railway (and former highway)
Galveston, Galveston County, Texas
Open to railroad traffic only
Built 1912, Original Bascule replaced in 1987; 1987 bascule span replaced in 2012 by a lift span
- A.M. Blodgett of Kansas City, Missouri (1912 Arch Contractor)
- American Bridge Co. of New York (1987 Bascule Design/Erection)
- Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC of Birmingham, Alabama (2012 Lift Span General Contractor)
- Cianbro Corporation of Pittsfield, Maine (2012 Lift Span General Contractor)
- Concrete-Steel Engineering Co. of New York, New York (1912 Bridge Engineer)
- Middlesex Companies of Littleton, Massachusetts (2012 Lift Span Designer)
- Modjeski & Masters of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania
- Penn Bridge Co. of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania (1912 Bascule Fabricator)
- Pittsburgh-Des Moines Steel Co. of Des Moines, Iowa & Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (As PDM Structural Group; Orange, Texas Plant; 1987 Bascule Fabricator)
- Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Co. of Chicago, Illinois (1912 Bascule Design)
- U.S. Steel of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Chicago Engineering Office; 1987 Bascule Designer)
- William Mueser of Moers, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany (Engineer)
- Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Galveston-Houston Electric Railway (G&HE)
- Interurban
Modern welded through truss lift main channel span with concrete closed-spandrel arch approach spans.
Length of largest span: 383.0 ft.
Total length: 7,930.0 ft. (1.5 mi.)
Deck width: 60.0 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 12, 1976
Also called
Old Galveston Causeway
Great Causeway
ATSF - Old Galveston Causeway
Approximate latitude, longitude
+29.29736, -94.88624   (decimal degrees)
29°17'50" N, 94°53'10" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/316791/3242407 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Virginia Point
8 ft. above sea level
Inventory numbers
NRHP 76002028 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 48174 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • June 13, 2019: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • September 10, 2018: Updated by Brad Smith: Length of longest span
  • August 20, 2018: Updated by Luke: Corrected 1987 bascule fabrictor)
  • December 21, 2016: New photo from Dave King
  • February 5, 2016: New photos from Luke
  • December 6, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added builders per forum comment
  • May 28, 2015: Updated by Luke: Reverted name back to Old Galveston Causeway
  • May 19, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • March 16, 2015: New photo from Luke
  • February 14, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added category "Laced endposts" based on photograph of the original drawspan.
  • April 23, 2014: Photo imported by Patrick Feller
  • July 4, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Noted that the Scherzer bascule was replaced in 1989
  • January 14, 2013: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • June 8, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added lift span builders
  • June 8, 2012: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added builder, span length, original owner, corrected span designations.
  • March 18, 2012: Updated by Craig Philpott: refined description and details.
  • January 4, 2012: Updated by Jason Straub: updated NRHP info
  • February 18, 2011: Added by Nathan Morton

Related Bridges 



Old Galveston Causeway
Posted September 10, 2018, by Brad Smith (gaberdine [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I think a lot of the confusion over the 1988 design comes from the document the 2011 construction manager, BNSF Engineer, & the Engineer from the contractor published / presented.

They refer to the 1988 Bascule as a Scherzer. At the same time they note it was Designed & Built by American Bridge.


By the way: The entire causeway is OWNED by the County of Galveston. It is leased to BNSF until 2110.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted January 19, 2016, by John Riley (JRiley [at] sonomamarintrain [dot] org)

Clarification appreciated Jeffrey! SMART ended up with both plansets and the history of the 1980's bridge replacement was not clear - appeared that much of the original planset was re-used. The Galveston Causeway, now Haystack Landing, bridge is currently finishing commissioning and operating very well.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted December 6, 2015, by Jeffrey Routson (jroutson [at] hardesty-hanover [dot] com)

Clarification: The original 1912 bascule was designed by the Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company. It was a 3-track, single-leaf span located on the north channel pier (by the 1980s only a single track was in service). The 1912 bascule was replaced in 1987 with a single-track, single-leaf rolling lift bascule. It was located on the south channel pier so that it could be constructed while the original bascule remained in service. After the new bascule was completed, the 1912 bascule was raised and secured in the open position and the new bascule was put into service. The 1912 bascule was then demolished. The new bascule was designed by American Bridge Division of US Steel (Chicago Engineering Office), fabricated by PDM Bridge (Orange TX Plant), and erected by American Bridge Company.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted July 4, 2013, by Nathan Holth

I think the bascule bridge that was replaced here to be moved to California was not the original 1912 bascule, or it was severely altered with very little original material left. News articles described the span being moved to California in 2012 as "26 years old" which would put its date at 1986. Moreover, it is unlikely a railroad would buy a 1912 bridge to replace a 1903 bridge.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted June 8, 2012, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The designation of the bascule as main span and arch as approach spans is correct. I have adjusted this in the listing, and also added builder, span length and other info. This bascule bridge is listed in Scherzer Rolling Lift Bridge Company literature.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted June 8, 2012, by Luke Harden (lmharden [at] iastate [dot] edu)

The main channel span is a truss and I categorized it so the truss is the main bridge and the arches are the approach spans.

Old Galveston Causeway
Posted July 31, 2011, by Bridgehunting Texas (aaron [dot] mightypenguin [at] gmail [dot] com)

Bridge incorrectly described as Through Truss design. It is in fact a Closed Spandrel Concrete Arch equipped with a Single Leaf Bascule Lift Section of Through Truss Design.