Dunnville Bottoms Trail Bridge

Whipple Through Truss Bridge over Chippewa River
Near Dunnville, Dunn County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Dunnville Bottoms Trail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor (Whipple Span) Morse Bridge Company of Youngstown Ohio
Currently Owned By Wisconsin DNR
Length 860 Feet Total, 233 Foot Main Span
Width 1 Track, 2 Trail Lanes
Height Above Ground 15 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type (Trusses) Whipple and Pratt Through Truss
Superstructure Type (Approach Spans) Deck Girder and Trestle
Substructure Type Concrete and Timber Pile
Date Assembled 1908, Additional Spans Added 1928
Date Fabricated (Whipple Truss) 1885
Original Location (Whipple Truss) Bridge #U-464; Kingsford, Michigan
Date Fabricated (Pratt Truss) 1886
Original Location (Pratt Truss) Bridge #B-256; Spring Green, Wisconsin
Date Fabricated (Girders) 1881
Original Location (Girders) Bridge #Z-100; Elgin, Illinois
Traffic Count 0 Trains/Day (Bridge is a Trail)
Current Status Rails to Trails
MILW Bridge Number M-502
Significance National 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.

Located near the village of Dunnville, this large structure is one of the most unique railroad bridges in Wisconsin.
The current bridge was initially built at several locations, before being moved here piece by piece.
The most unique span on the bridge was installed here in 1908. It consists of a 233-foot 6-inch 10-panel, pin connected Whipple Through Truss which was originally constructed as a 255-foot deck truss in 1885 at Kingsford, Michigan. When that bridge was replaced in 1902, the span was modified into the current through truss and reused here. At this time, it was also strengthened and several components were rebuilt.
The remaining steel spans were installed in 1928. The smaller truss span consists of a 103-foot 6-inch 6-panel pin connected Pratt Through Truss, fabricated in 1886 to cross the Wisconsin River at Spring Green, Wisconsin.
The deck girder spans were originally fabricated in 1881 for a bridge across the Fox River at Elgin, Illinois. While the girders on this bridge are twinned, it is unknown if the original Elgin bridge used twinned girders, or if this was done upon being moved here.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the Kingsford Bridge, showing the Whipple Truss in the background. From Types and Details of Bridge Construction, Volume 1 (1904); via Google Books

Currently, the bridge consists of:
24 Spans Trestle (Last renewed 1932)
2-84' Spans Twinned Deck Plate Girder (Built 1881 at Bridge #Z-100)
1-103'6" Pratt Truss Span (Built 1886 at Bridge #B-256)
1-233'6" Whipple Through Truss Span (Built 1885 at Bridge #U-464)
2 Spans Trestle (Last renewed 1935)
The entire bridge consists of concrete and timber substructures.

The author has ranked this bridge as being nationally significant, due to the unusually old age of the spans. In particular, the Whipple Truss is one of the most significant bridges in Western Wisconsin. Featuring vertical endposts and a heavily modified design, this truss is an unusual example of reusing a deck truss as a through truss.
A massive sandbar provides excellent views of this bridge. The photos are from a pair of days-a humid May 2012 morning and a crisp April 2015 evening.

Chippewa River Railroad Bridges
Upstream Clairemont Avenue Railroad Bridge
Downstream BNSF Chippewa River Bridge

These Pictures Start at varying points in the Series
Detail Photos


Source Type


Build dates and original locations Milwaukee Road Archive at the Milwaukee Public Library
Contractor (Whipple Truss) Morse Bridge Company plaque
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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