WSOR Black Earth Creek Bridge #5

Through Plate Girder Bridge over Black Earth Creek
Cross Plains, Dane County, Wisconsin

Click the Photo Above to See All Photos of This Bridge!
Name WSOR Black Earth Creek Bridge #5
Built By Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By State of Wisconsin
Currently Operated By Wisconsin & Southern Railroad
Length 67 Feet Total
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 5 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Through Plate Girder
Substructure Type Concrete
Date Built 1901
Traffic Count 3 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
WSOR Bridge Number B-216
Significance Local Significance
Documentation Date June 2018
In 1850, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad began construction of a line charted to connect 196 miles between Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Prairie Du Chein, Wisconsin.
By the end of the year, the railroad reached from Milwaukee to Elm Grove, and went through Wausautosa. The following year, an extension would be made another 10 miles to Waukesha.
In 1852 and 1853, the railroad built another 42 miles of track to Milton, and 18 miles from Milton to Stoughton, respectively.
Between 1854 and 1856, the railroad was extended through Madison, to Boscobel, an addition of 86 miles.
In 1858, the railroad completed to Prarie du Chein, and opened the opportunity for expansion westwards.
With a successful and mainline completed and fully operational, the M&M was purchased by the Milwaukee and Prairie du Chen Railway in 1861. In turn, the M&PdC was purchased by the Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway in 1867.
The M&StL operated numerous railroads throughout Wisconsin, and was merged into the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway in 1874. Known as the Milwaukee Road, the system expanded rapidly over the upper midwest.
The CM&StP later became known as the Chicago, Milwaukee St. Paul & Pacific Railway in 1915, after completing a transcontinental route.

This route would quickly be downgraded to a secondary mainline, after other routes became preferable.
While this was one of the first railroads completed, the route was sold in 1980 to the State of Wisconsin, who picked Wisconsin & Southern to operate the route. This arrangement is still ongoing in 2018.

This small through girder bridge is the fifth crossing of Black Earth Creek.
Built in 1901, this bridge consists of a single standard "C4" through girder span set onto concrete abutments.
Bridges like this are standard in design, and are seen all over the railroad system. This structure replaced a wooden Howe Through Truss, built in 1883.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair condition. One small piece of bracing has been broken off from the bottom of the bridge.

The author has ranked this bridge as being locally significant, due to the common design.
The photo above is an overview. The bridge was accessed with permission.


Source Type


Build Date Milwaukee Road Archives at the Milwaukee Central Library
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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