Karnak Bridge
Luverne Trestle

Deck Girder High Trestle over Sheyenne River
Karnak, Griggs County, North Dakota

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name Karnak Bridge
Built By Great Northern Railway
Contractor American Bridge Company of New York
Currently Owned By BNSF Railway
Length 2,736 Feet Total, 70 Foot Main Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 180 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Girder Viaduct
Substructure Type Steel Tower and Concrete
Date Built 1912
Traffic Count 20 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
BNSF Bridge Number 63.66
Significance Regional Significance
Documentation Date July 2016 and May 2017
In 1910, the Great Northern Railway began construction on a new extension to connect Minot, North Dakota and Fargo, North Dakota.
The first construction began from Surrey Junction (near Minot) at the existing mainline to Simcoe.
The next year, Great Northern continued work. A segment of railroad from Luverne to Nolan would be completed by the end of the following year.

Construction of the new line would wrap up in 1912 with connections from Fargo to Nolan, Simcoe to Luverne and Luverne to New Rockford.

This new line would provide a more direct route for freight heading to and from Minneapolis to reach the Pacific Coast.
The highlight of the new line was the massive trestle over the Sheyenne River. This bridge was over half a mile long.

In 1970, GN merged with rival Northern Pacific and the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy to form Burlington Northern.
BN downgraded this line slightly, although it was still a high priority piece of track.

In 1996, BN merged with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe to form BNSF Railway, the current operators of this line.
Currently, BNSF operates the Surrey to Page segment of this line as the KO Subdivision, and the Page to Fargo portion as the Prosper Subdivision.

This massive high trestle crosses the Sheyenne River and its massive valley between Karnak and Luverne.
Because of the nature of the area, the Sheyenne River carved a deep valley at this location. It was dammed up to create Lake Ashtabula, which this bridge currently crosses.
The bridge is a massive high trestle, with the main spans resting on steel bents. In addition, the towers and other substructures are made of concrete.
Of the large bridges in North Dakota, this structure is the highest and the middle in length. It is longer and taller than the Gassman Coulee Trestle near Minot, but shorter in distance than the Hi-Line Bridge to the south in Valley City.
The structure is best accessed by using 10th Street SE from the west. The east side appears to be off limits and not possible to access. The bridge contains 26 main spans and 25 tower spans, giving a total count of 51 spans.
The bridge was built single track, and unlike the Valley City Bridge; it cannot be converted to a double track structure.

Historic Photo
Historic photo of the bridge

The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the lack of notable railroad bridges in Western Minnesota and North Dakota.
The photo above is an overview.


Source Type


Build Date Extension of the Great Northern Railway
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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