3 votes

Boscobel Covered Bridge


Public Domain: Published Prior to 1923


BH Photo #317876


Was the last covered bridge in SW Wisconsin according to a 1932 article


Lost Pratt through truss bridge over Wisconsin River on US 61
Boscobel, Grant County, Wisconsin, and Crawford County, Wisconsin
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1874; Replaced 1936
- Mr. Pertell of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- Unknown iron firm from Pittsburgh, PA
- Unknown lumber firm from Green Bay, WI
150' Pratt through truss swing
One fixed Pratt through truss
Three Howe(?) covered through trusses
Total length: 700.0 ft.
Also called
US61 Covered Bridge
49-12-02x / 49-22-03x
Approximate latitude, longitude
+43.15108, -90.71502   (decimal degrees)
43°09'04" N, 90°42'54" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/685791/4780126 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Inventory numbers
WGCB 49-12-02x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
WGCB 49-22-03x (World Guide to Covered Bridges number)
BH 62082 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • January 8, 2022: New photo from Paul Plassman
  • March 17, 2021: New photos from Geoff Hubbs
  • January 27, 2017: Updated by Robert Thompson: Changed category from "Railroad" to "Highway" and type from "fixed" to "swing".
  • January 27, 2017: Updated by Luke: Added vague builder info from WI historical documents
  • January 21, 2017: New photos from Dana and Kay Klein
  • July 29, 2014: Updated by Luke: Edited info
  • July 29, 2014: Added by Douglas Butler

Related Bridges 



Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted April 25, 2018, by MFT

The geography from google maps for the given location seems to match Luke's photo's foot hill.


Some local photos might confirm this.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 28, 2017, by Michael Quiet (mquiet [at] gmail [dot] com)

On the point of smoke in covered RR bridges:

Many had cupolas or vents in the roof to allow the escape of smoke and steam. A prime example of this would be the 1908 Fisher covered railroad bridge in VT:


Or the 1904 Clarks bridge in NH (and still open to trains no less):


Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 28, 2017, by Anonymous

According to https://www.nh.gov/nhdhr/publications/documents/wooden_bridg... , after the adoption of coal-fueled locomotives the risk of fire went down significantly, and most fires damaged the roofs and were extinguished before damage was done to the trusses.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 28, 2017, by Robert Thompson

Well, on the point of covered railroad bridges, I concede that they did in fact exist.

However, they were probably horrible in the cars following the locomotive. And I would be curious to learn the statistics of how often they burned.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 28, 2017, by Anonymous

Wisconsin's own Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific was fond of them, especially in the PNW.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 28, 2017, by Chester Gehman (gehmanc2000 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Mr. Thompson:

You asked if anyone can point to a railroad covered bridge. They did exist. The Boston & Maine Railroad, as well as other New England roads had them. The Hillsborough Covered Bridge in Hillsborough, New Hampshire (BH 61397) was built in 1903 and is a good example.


Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 27, 2017, by Luke

Nope, as all the evidence I've found and added to the sources section points to it being road.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 27, 2017, by Anonymous

So do you think this is a RR Bridge?

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 27, 2017, by Luke

1) I've already discerned that it's not a railroad bridge for Douglas, as already shown.

2) There's a category for covered railroad bridges, of which there were numerous examples: https://bridgehunter.com/category/tag/covered-railroad-bridg...

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 27, 2017, by Robert Thompson

A few other things to note here:

1. The cited Wisconsin State Journal article of May 24 1935 clearly states that this is a HIGHWAY bridge, carrying US Highway 61 across the Wisconsin River. It also states that the bridge operated as a toll bridge until it was acquired by the state.

2. Can anyone point out ANY instances where a railroad used a COVERED bridge? Coal-fired steam locomotives were capable of spewing live sparks out the smokestack, putting the enclosed wooden structure in great risk of a fire. In any event, the amount of smoke spewing from the locomotive would fill the covered portion of the bridge with smoke.

3. Most truss-type rail bridges are in essence a double bridge; i.e. the truss portion supports a double girder bridge suspended inside it. Photos of the swing span show no evidence of the truss being able to support rail loads.

4. The aerial photo provided by the Wisconsin Historical Society clearly shows a roadway versus a railroad on this bridge. An automobile is clearly seen on the approaches on the far bank.

I rest my case.

Boscobel Covered Bridge
Posted January 27, 2017, by Robert Thompson

I hate to belabor the point, but...

the Wisconsin Historical Society is in error when they captioned the photo

"DESCRIPTION Elevated view of railroad bridge over the river. Part of the bridge is covered. Foothills are in the background."

This is a HIGHWAY bridge. The bridge is perpendicular to the river, with a bluff facing the portal. There is NO RAILROAD in the photo; the bridge is clearly servicing a highway with a "tee" intersection

. A railroad branch at this point would have a wide-radiused roadbed leaving the bridge; there is no evidence of there having been one.

Old maps do not show any railroad crossing at this point on the river; there is no reason why a railroad company would invest a fortune installing a swing bridge across a river servicing nothing for no reason.

Several miles downriver, there IS a RAILROAD bridge that still exists, with a swing span. I hope to get out to it next summer by kayak for some photos.

Wisconsin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 29, 2014, by Luke

Based on a sideshot from WIHS ( http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=N:4294963... ), that's definitely the same bridge as what the postcard I posted.

I'll make the appropriate changes.

Wisconsin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 29, 2014, by Luke

Perhaps Douglas mistook pic related for being a railroad bridge?

Wisconsin River Railroad Bridge
Posted July 29, 2014, by Robert Thompson (rkt [dot] engineering [at] gmail [dot] com)

I don't believe there ever was a railroad bridge across the Wisconsin River at the point you indicated. Go downstream a few miles along the existing railroad tracks, and you will see an EXISTING swing bridge still crossing the river. While the approaches are not covered spans, this may be the bridge you are showing.