Emerson Rail Bridge

Deck Plate Girder Bridge over Indian Creek
Emerson, Mills County, Iowa

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Emerson Rail Bridge
Built By Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 155 Feet Total, 60 Foot Main Span
Width 2 Tracks
Height Above Ground 10 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1904
Traffic Count 50 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 451.49
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date October 2015
In 1868, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad had reached Creston, Iowa from Ottumwa. The crews used Creston as a point to continue building west.
By 1870, the line would be completed to East Plattsmouth, Iowa. This location was set on the Missouri River.

Just across the river, in Plattsmouth, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad of Nebraska continued building west.

The railroad reached Ashland by 1870, and Lincoln later that year. The expansion would continue west, ultimately reaching Denver.

The lines were purchased by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad in 1875. To the east, the Iowa line connected to Chicago, via Burlington.

By 1880, the CB&Q completed a large bridge across the Missouri River at Plattsmouth, connecting the two lines.

Throughout the early 20th century, the line would be upgraded. In Iowa, many sections were constructed double track between Creston and Pacific Junction.

In Nebraska, the Ashland to Lincoln section was constructed double track in 1910.

The line served as a broader connection, connecting Denver and Chicago.
By 1970, the CB&Q merged with Great Northern and Northern Pacific to form Burlington Northern.
In 1996, BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, who currently owns this line.

Presently, the Creston to Lincoln section is known as the Creston Subdivision, and sees a steady traffic base.

This simple deck girder bridge crosses Indian Creek at Emerson, Iowa.
Built in 1904, the bridge consists of three deck girder spans, set onto concrete substructures. It appears little has been changed with the bridge since it was constructed, except for the replacement of the deck with a ballasted deck.
This design of bridge is common for creeks and rivers, due to the ease of construction and maintenance.
Overall, the bridge appears to be well maintained and in good condition.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The bridge sits next to old US-34, now County H34, near the junction with US-59. The photo above is looking east along the bridge.


Source Type


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

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