5 votes

CNW - Milwaukee River Swing Bridge


C&NW Swing Bridge

The tracks are long abandoned, and the bridge is parked in the open position.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning


BH Photo #162687



This bridge carried the Chicago & Northwestern Railway from Chicago to the C&NW depot in Milwaukee. The depot is long gone, and so are the rails north of this span. The right of way continued through Milwaukee, part of it is now a recreational trail.

At one time, this bridge carried C&NW's signature Twin Cities 400 passenger trains that operated from 1935 to 1963. The 400, renamed the Twin Cities 400 in 1941, was so named for traveling from Chicago to the Twin Cities in 400 minutes. The 400 arrived in Milwaukee just 85 minutes after leaving Chicago and crossing the Milwaukee River on this bridge. (The train made it to St. Paul in 396 minutes. The only train between Chicago and the Twin Cities today is the Amtrak Empire Builder, which makes the trip in 8 hours, not even close to 400 minutes.)


Through truss bridge over Milwaukee River on Chicago & Northwestern
Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Closed to all traffic
Built 1915 to replace a circa 1890 double-track swing bridge
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
Double-intersection Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 235.0 ft.
Total length: 395.0 ft.
Also called
CNW - Bridge #1556
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.02796, -87.90499   (decimal degrees)
43°01'41" N, 87°54'18" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/426268/4764317 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 44904 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 11, 2019: New Street View added by Geoff Hubbs
  • June 15, 2014: Updated by John Marvig: added builder
  • April 20, 2010: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added photos and updated bridge data
  • April 17, 2010: Added by J.R. Manning


  • J.R. Manning - thekitchenguy [at] sbcglobal [dot] net
  • Douglas Butler
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Geoff Hubbs


CNW - Milwaukee River Swing Bridge
Posted August 17, 2018, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)
CNW - Milwaukee River Swing Bridge
Posted May 24, 2018, by Stephen Rugolo (Stephenrugolo [at] hoail [dot] com)

I was the bridge tender on this bridge as well as two bridges on the KK river during the late 70s and early 80s. My favorite time there was when the circus train would come to town and cross the bridge to be unloaded at CJ Transport, now Summerfest parking lot.