4 votes

BNSF - Burlington Bridge (1893)


Overall View Of Bridge, Protective Pier And Mississippi River. View To Northeast

Photo by Clayton B. Fraser, August 1985, for HAER

View photos at Library of Congress

BH Photo #122597


Through truss swing bridge over Mississippi River on BNSF Railway in Burlington
Burlington, Des Moines County, Iowa, and Henderson County, Illinois
Replaced by a new bridge 2011-2012
Built 1890-1893; Replaced 2011-2012.
- George S. Morison of New Bedford, Massachusetts
- New Jersey Steel & Iron Co. of Trenton, New Jersey
- Amtrak (AMTK)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Burlington Northern Railroad (BN)
- Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad (CBQ)
6-250' Whipple Through Truss
1-360' Through Truss Swing Span
2-70' Deck Girder
Length of largest span: 360.0 ft.
Total length: 2,000.0 ft.
Also called
CBQ - Burlington Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+40.79854, -91.09205   (decimal degrees)
40°47'55" N, 91°05'31" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/660953/4518145 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory number
BH 37319 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • December 3, 2021: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • November 14, 2021: Updated by John Marvig: added builder and dimensions
  • April 13, 2021: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • June 11, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • May 1, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Updated Design of main span and lost date
  • October 15, 2012: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Replacement bridge completed, scheduled for dedication 18 Oct 2012; bridge updated to "No Longer Exists"
  • April 4, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added categories "Amtrak", "Navigable waterway", "HAER documented"
  • October 2, 2011: New photos from Quinn Phelan
  • November 10, 2010: Updated by Alexander D. Mitchell IV: Bridge in process of replacement; updated to reflect construction
  • June 13, 2010: Updated by Nathan Holth: Updated bridge type and GPS.
  • August 26, 2008: Added by J.R. Manning

Related Bridges 



Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted February 26, 2014, by Tim Reilly (silverhawkti [at] gmail [dot] com)

The 1893 rebuild (which recently was lost) was a George S. Morison project. HAER #NE-2 has a section on the bridge as well as a nice set of drawings of a number of Morison rail bridges.

Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted February 3, 2011, by Ed Hollowell (erhollowell [at] aol [dot] com)

Saturday, Jan. 29 demolition operations were taking place on this bridge. Apparently something went wrong and there was an unplanned explosion. No injuries were reported but the BNSF line was closed for a few hours because of it. The Amtrak California Zephyr was one train which was detoured.

Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted December 29, 2010, by lyon_wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Photos of work on the new vertical lift span on the BNSF Burlington Mississippi River bridge.


Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted June 18, 2010, by Lyon_Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Answered my own question. Looks like BNSF's replacing the bridge's approach spans, and replacement of the swing span with a lift span is in the works too.


Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted June 18, 2010, by Lyon_Wonder (lyon_wonder [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I wonder what type of span they’re going to replace it with? IIRC, an all-new rail bridge across the upper Mississippi hasn’t been built since the early 1960s, and most of the other low-clearance bridges they simply replaced the swing span with a lift span.

Burlington Rail Bridge
Posted June 13, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Six span pin-connected Whipple truss bridges plus a swing span from the 1800s? Boring... these are a dime a dozen! Must be hundreds of these around... What's that you say, you want me to list some of the other examples? Sorry, I can't think of any right now... but there must be hundreds more, right? That being the case, LETS TEAR THEM ALL DOWN NOW!!!!

Alright, dripping sarcasm aside, BNSF Railroad with the cooperation and support of our wonderful history loving Coast Guard, is beginning project to demolish and replace the Whipple truss spans of this bridge. And since we live in the 21st Century where the only thing we recycle is Coca Cola bottles, I doubt the Whipple truss spans will be moved onto local roads or non-motorized trails as was done in decades past.