2 votes

UP - Crooked River Bridge


1931 Photo shortly after construction was finished

scanned from Engineering News-Record page 605

Photo taken by Paul Hamby


BH Photo #326161


In 1931, the Rock Island realigned and upgraded its Trenton, MO, to Kansas City, MO, line with 76 miles of new and upgraded tracks costing 13.5 million dollars. As a part of the new construction project, a section of joint MILW/RI double track was built between Polo and Lawson. The original MILW single track DPG bridge over the Crooked River was replaced at this time with a much larger double track bridge just upstream on the new joint line.

The new bridge is still in service to this day with the Union Pacific and Canadian Pacific railroads, and is in amazing condition. This was the largest bridge constructed on the new route, a double-track Pratt deck truss with concrete arch span approaches. It is much larger than the old MILW DPG bridge it replaced, which lay to the south in the flood plain. The original MILW alignment can still be made out running parallel to the new line between Polo and Lawson, and the old bridge's piers and abutments remain at the former Crooked River bridge site near Elmira.


Pratt deck truss bridge over Crooked River on Union Pacific / Canadian Pacific Railroad
Ray County, Missouri
Open to traffic
Built 1931 by the Rock Island Railroad
- Canadian Pacific Railway (CP)
- Chicago & North Western Railway (CNW)
- Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (MILW)
- Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad (CRIP (1866-1920); RI (1920-1975) ROCK (1975-1980))
- Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern Railroad (DME)
- I&M Rail Link (IMRL)
- Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (ICE)
- Soo Line Railroad (SOO)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
150ft double-track Pratt deck truss span with concrete arch approaches, rail level is 84ft above water, total bridge length is approximately 460ft long. Bridge has a ballasted deck.
Length of largest span: 150.0 ft.
Total length: 460.0 ft.
Also called
RI - Crooked River Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+39.50990, -94.14886   (decimal degrees)
39°30'36" N, 94°08'56" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/401234/4373992 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Land survey
T. 54 N., R. 29 W., Sec. 10
Inventory number
BH 67853 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • May 16, 2022: Updated by Paul Plassman: Added categories "6-panel truss", "Riveted"
  • May 15, 2022: New photo from Dylan VanAntwerp
  • April 15, 2022: Updated by Dylan VanAntwerp: Added categories "Ballasted Deck", "Soo Line Railroad", "Canadian Pacific Railway", "Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad", "Dakota, Minnesota, & Eastern Railroad", "I&M Rail Link"
  • May 31, 2015: Added by Paul Hamby

Related Bridges 


  • Dylan VanAntwerp - dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com


UP - Crooked River Bridge
Posted May 14, 2022, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

To add even more confusion, I was looking at photo #5, and the main span appears to be a heavy, subdivided warren truss identical to the type the Rock Island used on numerous bridges in the 1940s. Perhaps it is a Rock Island bridge after all.

UP - Crooked River Bridge
Posted May 13, 2022, by Dylan VanAntwerp (dylan_vanantwerp [at] live [dot] com)

The caption for the 1931 photograph of this bridge mentions that it is on the new Rock Island line, giving the impression this is a Rock Island bridge. I am wondering if this is really the case. I have a 1964 RI map that Trains Magazine produced, and it lists the section of tracks from Polo to Air Line Jct at the edge of Kansas City as Milwaukee Road. Whatever map program historic aerials uses lists both tracks as CP Rail, with UP RR in parenthesis to designate track rights.

I am wondering if when the RI first approached the MILW about tying onto them at Polo and then running together to Kansas City, if the Milwaukee Road demanded they pay for rebuilding the line into an improved double track line before they would agree to RI track rights. Railroads have a way of putting the screws to their competition to help pay for improvements their own physical plant when the opportunity presents itself. This would explain features of the new Crooked River Bridge that don't seem to match up with the Rock Island.

Number one, the bridge has concrete arch approaches, very similar to other concrete arch bridges that the Milwaukee Road built all over its system, but unlike RI bridges from the same era that used DPG approaches. Secondly, the bridge uses a Pratt deck truss for the main span, when the Rock Island used heavy, sub-divided warren trusses for similar bridges it built in the 1940s. This bridge appears to me to be a Milwaukee bridge co-financed and co-operated by the Rock Island, but designed and built under Milwaukee Road ownership. What do you guys think?