9 votes

BNSF - Canyon Diablo Bridge


Canyon Diablo Bridge.jpg

Canyon Diablo RR Bridge, Jan. 2005

Photo by Thad Roan, Wikimedia Commons

View this photo at upload.wikimedia.org

BH Photo #184109



BNSF 7245 East at Canyon Diablo Bridge Arizona

BNSF 7245 leads an international stack train eastbound across the Canyon Diablo bridge in Arizona.



Span approximately 220 feet above canyon floor; current span replaces 1882 predecessor trestle, whose foundations are still visible. Bridge is four to seven miles from paved road; high-clearance vehicle and 4WD recommended for access to east end via rocky road, with warning that monsoons or other precipitation can make road very muddy and treacherous. Access to west end possible with 4WD but strongly discouraged. Land under Navajo jurisdiction. No trespassing on bridge or RR property tolerated, as trains cross/pass in excess of 60 mph an average of three times an hour or more as of 2013. Watch for rattlesnakes!


Steel arch bridge on Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (former AT&SF RR)
Coconino County, Arizona
Open to traffic
Built 1946, replaced 1882 trestle
- Kansas City Structural Steel Co. of Kansas City, Missouri
- Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway (ATSF)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
300-foot hinged arch with 120-foot spans on either side
Length of largest span: 300.0 ft.
Total length: 544.0 ft.
Also called
ATSF Canyon Diablo Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+35.16668, -111.12677   (decimal degrees)
35°10'00" N, 111°07'36" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
12/488455/3891535 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Babbitt Wash
Inventory number
BH 46735 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 6, 2013: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Video added, description updated
  • September 2, 2012: Updated by John Marvig: Added category "railroad"
  • April 28, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway"
  • November 4, 2011: Updated by Craig Philpott: refined construction year, added photos.
  • October 30, 2010: Added by Alexander D. Mitchell IV

Related Bridges 



BNSF - Canyon Diablo Bridge
Posted June 22, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

No one has commented on the unusual design of this bridge. This photo gallery on Flick has high-res photos in which the key details can be seen... hinges and skewbacks at the piers, indicating an arch design. Also note pin and/or hinge directly above these point at the top chord. Further, note the rocker bearings at the ends of the bridge... the end spans do indeed appear to function as truss spans, as near as I can tell based on this evidence.


BNSF - Canyon Diablo Bridge
Posted April 8, 2015, by Chas Johnson. (Chas john 2001 at yahoo dot com (no spaces) )

I have a photo of the original 1882 trestle. I will scan and post soon.

My father rode the Santa Fe to California around 1912. The pic is in a booklet called "Along The Santa Fe".

Canyon Diablo RR Bridge
Posted October 31, 2010, by Craig Philpott (cphilpott [at] puc [dot] edu)

I will be passing within a few miles of this bridge in November, I looks like it needs its' picture taken.