BNSF Sugar Creek Bridge (Bullards)

Baltimore Through Truss Bridge over Sugar Creek
Viele, Lee County, Iowa

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Name BNSF Sugar Creek Bridge (Bullards)
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 540 Feet Total, 126 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Baltimore Through Truss and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Built 1904
Traffic Count 15 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 195.10
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date June 2016
In 1855, the Keokuk, Mount Pleasant and Muscatine Railroad began construction of a 16 mile line from Keokuk, Iowa to Veile, Iowa. This new line would run roughly parallel to the Mississippi River.

This line would be completed in 1857, and by 1858 the Iowa Southern Junction Railroad began construction on an extension into Fort Madison. This would be completed in 1859 by the Iowa Southern Railroad.

These two railroads would become a part of the Keokuk and St. Paul Railway in 1866. By 1867, the line would be extended to Burlington, Iowa where it would meet a mainline. The line would be completed in late 1869.

Far south of Iowa, a railroad known as the Clarksville and Western Railroad begun construction of a 54 mile line stretching from St. Peters, Missouri to Louisiana, Missouri.

Similarly, the Mississippi Valley and Western Railway completed a 34 mile segment from West Quincy, Missouri to Buena Vista, Iowa in 1872. This segment was started by the Mississippi and Missouri River Air Line Railroad in 1868.

In 1873, the Clarksville and Western Railroad was purchased by the Mississippi Valley and Western Railway in 1873. This railroad would complete segments from West Quincy to Hannibal, Missouri and from Lousiana to Clarksville.

In 1875, the railroad would become part of the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railway. This railroad would complete the line between Buena Vista, Iowa and St. Peters Missouri in 1879.
Finally, in 1881; the railroad built a portion from Buena Vista to Keokuk. This created a continuous line between St. Peters and Burlington.

After a rename in 1887, the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railroad built a final 49 miles from Cuivre Junction (at Old Monroe) to St. Louis in 1892. The entire line was considered critical to the development of industry along the Mississippi River.

Both the Keokuk and St. Paul Railway, as well as the St. Louis, Keokuk and North Western Railroad were purchased by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railway in 1901. The CB&Q had been constructing a significant amount of track throughout the midwest.
In 1907, the 10 mile spur to St. Peters would be abandoned, considered unnecessary.

The remainder of the line remained critical to the CB&Q, which would eventually merge with the Northern Pacific and Great Northern to form Burlington Northern in 1970.

By 1996, the thriving BN decided to merge with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, the current owner of the line. It currently sees a solid traffic base, and is operated as the Hannibal Subdivision.

This massively built up truss bridge crosses Sugar Creek near the ghost town of Viele, Iowa.
Viele was a town built on the junction of two railroads. Only one of these railroads continues to exist.
The bridge here is a massively built up Baltimore Through Truss with heavy riveted connections. A missing plate seems to indicate the bridge was built by the Wisconsin Bridge & Iron Company.
The truss structure rests on concrete substructures, and is approached on the west (railroad south) by a long trestle approach.

The truss contains 6 panels, and is one of the heaviest built structures on the line.

However, the author has ranked the bridge as moderately significant. Due to the age of the structure, it is less historic than some counterparts along this line. None the less, the bridge is still a significant example of American Engineering.
The photo above is looking west across the bridge. More photos of this structure are anticipated to be coming soon.


Source Type


Build Date Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Collection at the Newberry Library, Chicago, Illinois
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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