Clairemont Avenue Railroad Bridge

Four Span Through Truss over Chippewa River
Eau Claire, Eau Claire County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Clairemont Avenue Railroad Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railroad
Contractor (Span #1) Union Bridge Company of Athens Pennsylvania
Currently Owned By Wisconsin DNR
Length 665 Feet Total, 142 Foot Largest Span
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Pratt and Warren Through Truss with Concrete Arch and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Assembled 1911
Fabrication Dates (Trusses) 1886, 1887 and 1888
Original Locations (Trusses) Iowa and Minnesota Locations (See Below)
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
Bridge Number M-188
Significance High Significance
In 1882, the Chippewa Falls and Superior Railway wished to build from an existing line in Wabasha, Minnesota to Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
The same year, the route was extended to Menomonie from Red Cedar Junction.
The route was completed to Chippewa Falls by 1883, but never was extended north to Superior. It was purchased by Milwaukee Road.
At Reeds Landing, a large pontoon bridge allowed bridges to cross the Mississippi River.
By 1882, the railroad was purchased by the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway. Known as the Milwaukee Road, this route became a spur for the railroad giant.
The Milwaukee Road was renamed the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railway in 1915. By 1951, the Pontoon Bridge was dealt a severe blow by ice, and the line was abandoned from Durand to Wabasha.

The remaining portion was purchased by the State of Wisconsin in 1979, and was operated by private owners. Despite the promise, a bridge strength issue in Eau Claire would not allow train operations to be feasible, and the route was abandoned in 1981.
In the 1980s, Wisconsin turned it into a trail, and by 2004 the trail was complete to Eau Claire. The Red Cedar branch is also used as a trail.
These trails are named the Chippewa Valley and Red Cedar State Trails.

This bridge is certainly one of the nicer and more scenic ones around. Located in a urban area, it crosses the Chippewa River in a scenic area.
The bridge runs at an angle from Clairemont Avenue.
This bridge is comprised of a concrete slab span, 3 Pratt Truss spans and one Warren Truss Span that are 127'9", 142', 142'. and 134'6" in length, all pin connected with lattice portal bracings.
It retains a high level of historic integrity, with minimal alterations.
Truss spans 1, 2 and 3 are Pratt, while 4 is warren. And also, the north approach is trestle while the south approach is concrete slab.
The best place to get to this bridge is from the DNR parking lot on the east side of the river. There are signs leading to it from Clairemont Avenue.
The bridge contains a unique history. The southernmost span was built in 1886, originally to cross the Zumbro River in Kellongg, Minnesota. It was relocated to Chaska, Minnesota; to cross the Minnesota River in 1905.
The center two spans were relocated from Ottumwa, Iowa, Originally built to cross the Des Moines River on the Kansas City Line in 1887.
The Warren Truss span was relocated from Madrid, Iowa. It was originally built 1888, and was relocated here in 1911 when that line (the Chicago-Omaha Line) was double tracked.
The bridge was assembled here in its current form in 1911. The trestles were renewed in 1959, although the arch was built in 1911.

The author has ranked the bridge as highly significant, due to the extreme level of historic integrity displayed, as well as the unique situation in which the spans were moved here.
The photo above is looking from Clairemont Avenue, while the photo below is a detail shot inside Truss #4.

A special thank you to the Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library for finding this information!

Chippewa River River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Phoenix Park Bridge
Downstream Dunnville Bottoms Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Detail Photos


Source Type


Build Dates Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library
Original Location Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library
Contractor (Span #1) Union Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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