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BNSF - Crooked River Bridge


BNSF - Crooked River Bridge

Side elevation and canyon profile from the west. U.S. 97 bridges visible in the background.

Photo taken by Mike Goff in March 2017


BH Photo #385511

Street Views 


Three bridges at crooked river

Drone flight across the bridges

Craig Philpott Photography

Play video


The Oregon Trunk Railway crosses the Crooked River on the highest railway bridge in the United States. The rails are 320 feet above the riverís low water mark. The bridge, composed of a 340 foot steel braced arch and two 60 foot plate girders, was designed by Ralph Modjeski of Chicago. Construction began in November 1910 with the excavation of foundations and anchorages in the canyonís basalt walls for the skewed backs which carried the weight of the projecting steel prior to its being joined in the center to complete the arch. The foundations were completed in March 1911 and the first skewed back casting was placed on June 23rd. Steel erection was begun from both ends but nearly all the material had to be handled from the north end. Steel for the south side was dropped from the north and hoisted by derricks to the top of the opposite canyon wall. Workers reached the steel skeleton by climbing rope ladders from the bottom up the shear canyon walls. The key arch, similar to a keystone in masonry bridges, was placed in position on September 2nd. Tension on the skewed backs was released and the 960 ton weight of the completed arch was now borne by the abutments formed by the canyon walls. Track laying was completed and the first train crossed over on September 17, 1911


Steel arch bridge over Crooked River on BNSF/Union Pacific Railroad in Terrebonne
Terrebonne, Jefferson County, Oregon
Open to traffic
Built 1911
- American Bridge Co. of New York (Fabrication)
- Missouri Valley Bridge & Iron Co. of Leavenworth, Kansas (Erection)
- Ralph Modjeski of Bochnia, Poland (Engineer)
- BNSF Railway (BNSF)
- Great Northern Railway (GN)
- Oregon Trunk Railway (OTR)
- Union Pacific Railroad (UP)
Steel arch
Length of largest span: 340.0 ft.
Total length: 460.0 ft.
Also called
Ralph Modjeski Railroad Bridge
Oregon Trunk Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.39091, -121.19581   (decimal degrees)
44°23'27" N, 121°11'45" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
10/643696/4916875 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Opal City
2762 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 36867 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • August 13, 2022: New photos from Patrick Gurwell
  • June 2, 2019: New video from Craig Philpott
  • August 25, 2018: New photos from Josh Schmid
  • April 19, 2018: Updated by Richard Doody: Added historical info to description
  • April 8, 2018: New photos from Richard Doody
  • January 13, 2018: New Street View added by Leslie R trick
  • April 7, 2017: Updated by Christopher Finigan: Added category "Riveted"
  • April 6, 2017: New photos from Mike Goff
  • March 6, 2017: Updated by Nathan Holth: Added contractors, span length, and historical text/photo links.
  • November 25, 2013: New photo from Adam
  • April 3, 2013: New Street View added by Mike Goff
  • July 1, 2010: New photo from Michael Goff
  • May 31, 2010: Updated by Craig Philpott: added elevation and photo
  • February 19, 2009: New photo from Michael Goff
  • July 15, 2008: Added by Michael Goff

Related Bridges 


  • Mike Goff - michael [dot] goff [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • HAER OR-51 - Oregon Trunk Railroad Bridge, Spanning Crooked River at Oregon Trunk Railroad, Terrebonne, Deschutes County, OR
  • Craig Philpott - craigphilpott63 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Adam
  • Historical Photos
  • Historical Article - Includes photos.
  • Railway Age Gazette - Historical Article with photos, drawings, etc.
  • Nathan Holth
  • Leslie R Trick - Leslie [dot] Trick [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Richard Doody
  • Josh Schmid
  • Patrick Gurwell - pgurwell [at] gmail [dot] com