BNSF Park River Bridge (Grafton)

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Park River
Grafton, Walsh County, North Dakota

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Name BNSF Park River Bridge (Grafton)
Built By Burlington Northern Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 150 Feet Total, 60 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Plate Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Timber Pile
Date Fabricated 1929
Date Erected 1974
Original Location Spokane, Washington area
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 145.42
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date August 2020
In 1887, the Duluth and Manitoba Railway built between Grand Forks and Pembina, heading west to Honeyford and then heading north through Forest River, Grafton and Joliette.
This railroad was part of the Northern Pacific Railroad system, which was also building from Manitoba Junction, Minnesota to Crookston and Grand Forks.
Competing railroads Great Northern and Northern Pacific both built numerous branch lines in this area, to serve rural farming communities. At Pembina, this line connected into Canada, where several railroads met at Pembina and Noyes.
In 1970, NP merged with rival Great Northern to form Burlington Northern Railroad. BN abandoned the segment from Joliette to Pembina in 1980, and from Honeyford to Grand Forks in 1983.
In 1996, BN merged with Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, who currently operates the Grafton-Joliette segment of this line as the Drayton Subdivision. In 2001, the Voss-Honeyford segment was sold to the Mohall Railroad, a subsidiary of Northern Plains Railroad. BNSF abandoned the Grafton-Voss segment in 2006, and the Mohall Railroad abandoned the Forest River-Voss segment in 2008. The Forest River-Honeyford segment is still in use.

Located on the north side of Grafton, this through girder bridge crosses the Park River.
Built in 1974 using an older span, the bridge features a single through girder span, set onto timber piles and approached by trestle. The previous bridge, a pile trestle, was possibly damaged or destroyed by a flood, requiring a steel span.
When the trestle was replaced, it appears that a few spans were simply cut out, and the steel span added. The steel span was heavily rebuilt upon relocation.
A plaque on the bridge indicates a date of 1929, and writing indicates it came from the Spokane area. However, the author is not entirely sure where in the Spokane area it came from. Burlington Northern did a considerable amount of line relocations in that area between 1972 and 1974.
It is also unknown if the span was originally Great Northern or Northern Pacific. The author is attempting to find more information on this bridge.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition, with no significant deterioration noted.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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