6 votes

MCRM - Baraboo River Bridge


View of the bridge from the South

Photo taken by Eric Hanson in July 2010


BH Photo #191306


Baraboo Bridge Reopens After 10 Years

Dedication ceremony for the reopening of bridge July 7, 2018

Mid-Continent Railway Museum

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This former Chicago & North Western rail line was abandoned in 1963 and acquired by the Mid-Continent Railway Museum. Bridge connects rail museum site to active connection to main rail system. Bridge originally featured wood piling pier, which was damaged in 2008 flooding, closing the bridge and the Museum's outside rail connection. Rebuilding started in late 2017, and the bridge was reopened to rail service in a ceremony July 7, 2018.


Plate girder bridge over Baraboo River on Mid Continent Railroad Museum
North Freedom, Sauk County, Wisconsin
In service for railroad traffic
Built in 1929; pier pilings damaged in 2008 flood, rebuilt with concrete pier and reopened July 2018
- American Bridge Co. of New York
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
Pony plate girder
Length of largest span: 60.0 ft.
Total length: 170.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.46172, -89.87282   (decimal degrees)
43°27'42" N, 89°52'22" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
16/267596/4816099 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
North Freedom
Land survey
T. 11 N., R. 5 E., Sec. 2
859 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 47475 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 9, 2018: New video from Alexander D. Mitchell IV
  • February 24, 2017: New photos from John Marvig
  • October 26, 2016: Updated by Tony Dillon: Changed description
  • July 29, 2012: Photo imported by Luke Harden
  • July 28, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Edited status: Bridge is abandoned and Red-carded
  • December 31, 2010: Added by Eric Hanson



MCRM - Baraboo River Bridge
Posted October 26, 2016, by Brian J. Patterson (pattersonbj [at] earthlink [dot] net)

This bridge is NOT abandoned. It is "out of service" due to the last major round of flooding of the Baraboo River. While I am not a member of the Mid-Continent Railway Museum, I am a member of a different museum and have a friend who IS a MCRM Member.

"Abandoned" in railroad terms means that the last railroad who owned a track or structure has no intention of ever operating the track or structure again, and that it will be sold off, scrapped, left for whomever gets the land, etc. This is NOT the case here.

Repairing a damaged railroad bridge to carry trains again is not cheap or easy. MCRM "plans" to have the bridge repaired when they can raise the money to do so. Until their plans change, the correct status for the bridge is "out of service."

The tracks on the WSOR side of the bridge are being used for storage by WSOR or MCRM, depending on exactly where MCRM ownership ends and WSOR ownership begins. Since the bridge is "out of service," the stored cars are not "in the way." Also, the owners of the cars are required to pay the owners of track for every day the cars are stored. This is part of how a railroad earns money. Were the bridge "in service," the cars would NOT be stored where they are. WSOR could not use the track for storage since they would be blocking the MCRM interchange. MCRM would not store the cars there either. They would haul them further back on their property so their interchange would be accessible.

Baraboo River Bridge
Posted July 29, 2012, by Gary Sprandel (jaidite [at] aol [dot] com)

Last I'd heard the bridge and track were still "active" but only in the sense that it's the museum's link to the outside world.

Judging from the pic it looks as though the stored cars are new exhibits donated to the museum.

The red carding of the bridge may be due to the major flooding that hit the museum a few years back and damaged everything in the collection so with other locomotives and rolling stock being a higher priority(to keep money coming in)getting the museum's outside link repaired may need to wait until they have something to go in or out.

Baraboo River Bridge
Posted May 10, 2011, by Robert Thompson

Just an observation: it appears to be a pony girder span, rather than a through truss.