Belleville Trail Bridge

Pratt Through Truss Bridge over Sugar River
Belleville, Dane County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Belleville Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Madison & Northern Railway
Contractor Union Bridge Company of Buffalo, New York
Currently Owned By Wisconsin DNR
Length 150 Feet Total
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt Through Truss
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1887
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails To Trails
IC Bridge Number R-43.9
Significance Moderate Significance
Documentation Date March 2015
In 1886, the Chicago, Madison & Northern began working on building a new branch line, from the three existing mainlines at Freeport; north to Madison, Wisconsin.
The CM&N was also working on building a mainline to Chicago from Freeport at this time.
In Freeport, the line met with two other lines, an Illinois Central line south towards Cairo, Illinois; and another IC line west towards Iowa.
As the line continued north, it had to transverse the increasingly harsher terrain as it got closer to Madison. Because of this, a tunnel was required east of New Glarus, Wisconsin.
The line was completed by 1888, and began branch line operations.
In Madison, the line met with a Chicago & North Western line and a Milwaukee Road line, providing connections to places north.
The line had been operated as an Illinois Central Line since its completion, but the CM&N finally became a part of the Illinois Central in 1903.
IC continued to operate this line as a branch line. The IC became part of the Illinois Central Gulf in 1972, after a merger with the Gulf, Mobile & Ohio.

The ICG abandoned the line in 1985, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation decided the line was of critical importance.
The Wisconsin & Calumet was contracted to operated the line, and continued with moderate success until 1993, when the tracks were embargoed.
Between 1993 and 1999, the line was used for motor car enthusiasts, with hope of returned freight service.
This service would never return, and the tracks were removed in 1999, and the state of Wisconsin and Stephenson County purchased the line.
In Wisconsin, the line is currently the Badger State Trail, which heads directly into Madison. One short stub of the old line remains in Madison.
In Illinois, the Jane Addams Trail uses the line between Freeport and the State Line.

This historic bridge is one of the most visible structures along the Badger State Trail.
Built in 1887, the bridge is a 8 Panel, Pin Connected Pratt Through Truss. It sits on stone abutments.
with several other similar structures, the bridge is virtually identical to the Jane Addams Trail Bridge.
In addition, several other bridges in Iowa were built the same year, and contained the same design, most of which have been replaced.
The bridge is visible as it sits behind the public works for Belleville, which is a small town outside of Madison.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in good condition. It is a good example of another 1880s truss bridge on the Wisconsin State Trail system.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the increasingly uncommon design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge can be accessed from the trail it carries.


Source Type


Build Date Union Bridge Company plaque
Contractor Union Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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