DN Park River Bridge

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

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Name DN Park River Bridge
Built By Great Northern Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Dakota Northern Railroad
Length 171 Feet Total, 60 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Stone Masonry
Date Built 1907
Traffic Count 2 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
DN Bridge Number 39.94
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date August 2020
In 1881, the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway built a line between North Grand Forks and Grafton, North Dakota. In 1882, the line was extended further north to Gretna, Manitoba; located along the Canadian Border.
This line served as a secondary connection between the United States and the Canadian border, becoming part of the Great Northern Railway in 1889. In 1906, the line was extended north to Portage La Prairie. By 1907, the StPM&M was fully consumed by the Great Northern.
The Canadian segment of the line was removed in 1929, dead ending the route at Gretna. The Great Northern built a significant amount of branch lines throughout northern Minnesota and North Dakota, many of which were branch lines that served small farming communities.
In 1970, GN merged with rival Northern Pacific to form Burlington Northern Railroad. By 1977, the International Border crossing was closed, cutting back the line to Neche, North Dakota; just south of the Canadian Border.
Because the many branch lines in this area were often parallel to one another, BN removed more of this line in 1994, cutting it back to Glasston. In 1996, BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway to form BNSF Railway.
In 2006, BNSF leased the line from Grafton to Glasston to Dakota Northern Railroad. Unfortunately, the line was closed to traffic between Grafton and Glasston in 2009 after an unsafe bridge was found. This segment is still owned by BNSF and is used for car storage.
Between Grand Forks and Grafton, BNSF still operates the line, known as the Glasston Subdivision.

Located along US Highway 81, this attractive girder bridge is the western crossing of the Park River in Grafton.
Built in 1907, the bridge features three through plate girder spans, set onto stone substructures. Typical of many of the Great Northern bridges, it appears that the substructures have been repointed and repaired.
This style bridge was commonly used to replace older trestles and wooden truss bridges, as girder bridges such as this were easy to construct and maintain. Great Northern upgraded many bridges in this area between 1907-08.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition, with no major 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 Great Northern Railroad Bridge Records at the Minnesota Historical Society
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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