DN Tongue River Bridge (Cavalier)

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Tongue River
Cavalier, Pembina County, North Dakota

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Name DN Tongue River Bridge (Cavalier)
Built By Great Northern Railway
Contractor Keystone Bridge Company of Pittsburgh
Currently Owned By Dakota Northern Railroad
Length 89 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 1899
Date Erected Ca. 1940
Original Location Unknown
Traffic Count 1 Train/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 31.72
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date August 2020
In 1890, the Great Northern Railway built a line between Grafton, North Dakota and Cavalier, North Dakota. In 1897, the line would be extended to Walhalla, North Dakota; located just south of the Canadian border.
By 1907, further extensions into Canada were made, reaching Mordon, Manitoba the same year. However, this line was unprofitable and the line was removed back to Walhalla in 1936.
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, which in turn merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway in 1996 to form BNSF Railway.
By 2006, BNSF sought to quit operating this line. As a result, it was leased to Dakota Northern Railroad, who currently operates this line.

Located on the north side of Cavalier, this unique through girder bridge crosses the Tongue River.
Originally built in 1899, the main through girder of this bridge was moved here at an unknown date from an unknown location. The bridge features this through girder, approached by trestle on either side and sitting on timber substructures.
It is unknown where the span may have come from. Built by Keystone Bridge Company, the bridge still has two plaques intact. It is likely that it was moved here after the 1930s, although it is believed the date may be close to 1940. Oftentimes, the Great Northern, in addition to most other railroads, would move spans to save money. This girder replaced a small wooden truss bridge.
Keystone Bridge Company built at least two other spans for the Great Northern. It is also unknown if these are connected.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair to good 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 Plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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