3 votes

BNSF - Little Falls Bridge (N)



Note, this is as close to the bridge as you can get regarding a photo opportunity. This was taken at the RR crossing on 1st Street NE.

Photo taken by Jason Smith in December 2010


BH Photo #191769

Street View 


This bridge was the second bridge built at this site. The first bridge was built in the 1870s. But it was not until 1891 when the bridge was replaced with this structure. Originally, the 1891 bridge had two pin-connected Pratt through truss spans. However, after a train accident in May 1974, which resulted in the east span to collapse into the Mississippi, BNSF (still Northern Pacific at that time) brought in the Warren truss span that had originally spanned the Columbia River in Washington state, and it was erected at the spot where the span went down. Today the bridge is still being used for transporting military equipment and troops to and from Ft. Ripley (located 10 miles upstream), albeit rarely. Given the military cuts that will happen eventually, it is likely that this line may be exempt and the bridge will eventually be converted into recreational use. However at the time of this entry, that plan has not come forth just yet. Story to be continued....


Bridge over Mississippi River on BNSF Railroad
Little Falls, Morrison County, Minnesota
Open to traffic
Future prospects
At the moment, the railroad is being used sparingly, which leads to the question of whether or not it will be abandoned and whether this bridge will be reused for a bike trail.
Built 1891; east span collapsed in train wreck in 1974- replaced with 1900 Warren truss span; still serves traffic
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Northern Pacific Railway (NP)
The bridge consists of two different spans: the 1891 (western- most) span consists of a pin-connected Pratt through truss bridge, whereas the easternmost span has a riveted Warren through truss design.
Length of largest span: 165.0 ft.
Total length: 335.0 ft.
Deck width: 18.0 ft.
Also called
NP - Little Falls Bridge (N)
BN - Little Falls Bridge (N)
NP - Little Falls Bridge (N)
Approximate latitude, longitude
+45.98502, -94.36203   (decimal degrees)
45°59'06" N, 94°21'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/394507/5093285 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Little Falls East
6 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 47575 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 7, 2017: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • November 2, 2016: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Pin-connected"
  • May 6, 2016: New photos from John Marvig
  • March 2, 2014: New photo from Jack Schmidt
  • November 25, 2012: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • April 29, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Northern Pacific Railroad"
  • September 19, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • January 8, 2011: Updated by Jason Smith: Added information on the bridge



BNSF - Little Falls Bridge (N)
Posted May 3, 2021, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

I've been wondering where the Warren span came from for a long time. I have found no other sources indicating the span is from the Columbia River, other than the one linked here. Since the old span collapsed in 1974, it would've been Burlington Northern doing the rebuilding. This could mean it is a GN, NP, SP&S or CB&Q span, possibly from anywhere in the western half of the US.