Rating:
3 votes

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge

Photos 

From Trinity Trails Park

Photo taken by Nathan Morton in April 2009

Enlarge

BH Photo #139778

Map 

Street View 

Description 

This bridge consists of 4 separate design elements; from east to west: a 150 foot steel truss, two deck plate steel girders 100 foot each, a 25 foot steel stringer over a maintenance road, and a 400 foot timber trestle. Originally constructed in 1903 the river channel was modified with levees ca 1915 and improved once again ca 1950 after major floods.

Facts 

Overview
Railroad bridge over Trinity River in Fort Worth Texas
Location
Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Texas
Status
Open to traffic
Future prospects
Expansion of commuter rail service in the Dallas - Fort Worth area includes double tracking this section of line which will likely entail replacing part of the extant bridge and building a new bridge alongside.
History
Built 1903
Builders
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Bernhisel Construction Co. of Chicago, Illinois
Railroads
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (RI; CRIP; ROCK)
- Chicago, Rock Island, & Gulf Railway (CRIG)
- Commuter Rail
- Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART)
- Fort Worth Transportation Authority (FWTA)
- Rapid Transit
- St. Louis-San Francisco Railway (SLSF; Frisco)
- Trinity Railway Express (TRE)
Design
Quandrangular lattice through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 150.0 ft.
Total length: 775.0 ft.
Deck width: 12.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.0 ft.
Also called
DART - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
RI - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
CRI&G - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Frisco - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Rock Island - Riverside Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+32.75932, -97.31114   (decimal degrees)
32°45'34" N, 97°18'40" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
14/658202/3625867 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Haltom City
Elevation
540 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 42532 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • October 28, 2014: Updated by M C Toyer: added design details, measurements and photos.
  • October 22, 2014: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added Construction Date
  • October 22, 2014: Updated by M C Toyer: Added category "Chicago Rock Island and Gulf RR (CRI&G)"
  • June 27, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad"
  • May 7, 2009: Added by Nathan Morton

Sources 

  • Nathan Morton - morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Luke
  • Nathan Holth
  • M C Toyer - mctoyer [at] hotmail [dot] com

Comments 

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 26, 2014, by M C Toyer

Thanks for the additional input.

Did not intend to seem argumentative. I'm new here and just trying to work through the protocol and pecking order. I admit I can be a bit anal about details. It just seems to me the bar is set a bit low for presenting and updating information without valid sources and the end result is misleading and perpetuates errors.

I contacted the author of the "newspaper" article. He is an accomplished and award winning photojournalist who relied on local historians for the bridge date. I contacted several of his sources, guys I deal with on a regular basis - real "boots on the ground" researchers who live in the area and are familiar with all things rail related and local history. To a man they agree the bridge was original to the line built in 1903. The errant 1923 date seems to have originated with a spur built in the vicinity that year, though not near the river crossing, and the switches and track modification related to the spur construction. They will be changing their blogs and photo captions but the newspaper article is probably out of their control.

I will be posting some photos of the bridge I took several years ago and take a new set soon. Will also post links to my sources' blogs.

Thanks to all. Now back to the hunt.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 24, 2014, by Luke

The portal bracing is also similar to a lattice that was built by AmBridge in 1901 on the RI mainline up here in Iowa.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 24, 2014, by Luke

There's a outline where a manufacture's plaque used to be that fits the outline of a pre-1909 American Bridge Co. plaque.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 24, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Hey, if you can find evidence to the contrary by all means go ahead and update the page. However, information about historic bridges is often hard to come by, and you can't always expect to find a peer reviewed article or primary source document with the information you want. The date I posted came from a print newspaper called Fort Worth Weekly. Possibilities for the 20 year bridge life: the 1903 bridge was destroyed and the article simply hasn't been found yet. Or, an old bridge might have been reused in 1903. Also, 1903 is a little late, but maybe not too late... a lot of 19th century RR bridges only lasted 20 years because of rapidly and unexpected increase in RR loads/traffic. Also on the other side of the spectrum, 1923 could be a typo, and instead should indeed be 1903. Its only one number off.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 24, 2014, by M C Toyer

Well, I'm not 100% ready to say that might not be correct, but there's a lot of guys who ride bicycles around the city and take pretty pictures. But where is the documentation?

It is a fact the Rock Island Railroad between Fort Worth and Dallas was built in 1903. It is a fact the Rock Island contractor completed the large iron bridges in Dallas and Fort Worth in May 1903 and the Rock Island had been building similar large iron bridges in Texas for a decade by them.

I've not found any record of a bridge at that particular location being destroyed then replaced with this one. It is not likely they would have built one originally with a 20 year life span.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 23, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

M C,

Nothing miraculous, I just did a Google image search for Trinity River Railroad Bridge and found the bridge with a construction date listed here: http://www.fwweekly.com/2013/10/16/string-of-pearls/ its at the bottom.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by Luke

To answer you question about why "The T" was omitted, because "The T" didn't come up when I had looked into the bridge.

TRE showed up in imagery, and DART as mentioned shows up in the "What's Here" algorithm.

Since it's as relevant as DART is to the bridge, a category for "The T" will be made.

As for the Frisco, I don't know, I think it was there when I added the Rock Island category.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by M C Toyer (mctoyer [at] hotmail [dot] com)

To Nathan -

I appreciate the guidance. May I ask the source of the 1923 construction date you added?

Also, can anyone provide details on when the Frisco, (St Louis - San Francisco Railroad) operated this line?

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by M C Toyer (mctoyer [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Re "Posted by Anonymous - It is DART, NOT BNSF. Putting BNSF would confuse people searching for this bridge much worse."

----------------------

That was my point - I was being facetious therefore my "morass of confusion" comment.

Not to split hairs but it is more correctly TRE than DART as the current operator, and why has The T been omitted - they have the same standing as DART in this situation and the bridge is in Tarrant County, not Dallas.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I think people are trying to find consistency where it is either not possible or not reasonable. Many railroad bridges have common names used by the general public and they may refer to the original owner, the current owner, or something completely different, and I would suggest defaulting to the common name before falling back on a "current owner name" rule. Example: to call Chicago's "Chicago and Alton Railroad Bridge" the "CN - South Fork South Branch Chicago River Bridge" http://bridgehunter.com/il/cook/bh50841/ is a bit silly when nobody refers to the bridge by that name, and the official Chicago Landmark Designation and the HAER Documentation names the bridge the Chicago and Alton Railroad Bridge.

At the same time, it is problematic (when no common public name exists) if someone wants to name a bridge based on a historical owner... you need to know the exact construction date of the bridge, and what the name of the railroad was at the time, unless you want to pick the name based on when the railroad line was laid which could predate the bridge itself which is even more confusing.

I am appreciative of those who list the railroad names in full, non-abbreviated format in the categories list. I am a bridge historian, not a railroad historian, and don't always have the abbreviations listed in the "Alternate Names" section memorized, or I at least need a refresher to remember what they stand for. I would imagine the same could be said for the general public, who I think its easy to forget are also frequent visitors to this website.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by Justin

I'm pretty sure EVERY railroad bridge on this website that is currently in use is listed as the current user of the line, with historical info put either in the description area, or typed up in an essay and added to the page.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by Anonymous

There's also an "additional names" box which the other railroads can go into. Click "whats here" under the map to see what the PRIMARY railroad is. It is DART, NOT BNSF. Putting BNSF would confuse people searching for this bridge much worse.

TRE - West Fork Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by M C Toyer

Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion and yours, on a website subtitled "Historic and Notable," is that thirteen recent years trumps three fourths of a century.

Using that logic I daresay the majority of active Texas railroad bridges should now be known as UP, BNSF, or KCS.

Regarding this particular route it should also be named BNSF because that railroad holds trackage right on the line. It all descends into a morass of confusion.

I believe that historical context is important. Without the Who, When, Why, What and Where these are just a collection of photographs.

TRE - Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by Justin

I think that the common name should be whoever is CURRENTLY using the bridge, Not the historical operator.

TRE - Trinity River Bridge
Posted October 22, 2014, by M C Toyer (mctoyer [at] hotmail [dot] com)

This railroad and bridge were constructed by the Chicago Rock Island and Gulf Railroad (CRI&G) in 1903 on the line connecting Fort Worth and Dallas Texas. The CRI&G was chartered specifically to operate in Texas and was later absorbed into its parent, the Chicago Rock Island and Pacific Railroad (CRI&P).

The Trinity Railway Express (TRE) is a joint service of Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority (The T) with both entities co-owning the trackage and right of way.

The bridge crosses the West Fork of the Trinity which merges with the Elm Fork further downstream in Dallas to form the Trinity River.

My recommendation is to the change the common name of this bridge to "Rock Island RR / West Fork Bridge" with "TRE / West Fork Bridge" as an alternate. These names would be historically and geographically correct.