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Durango Railroad Bridge

Durango Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: April 17, 2018

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Key Facts

Durango: La Plata County, Colorado: United States
Structure Type
Metal 8 Panel Pin-Connected Pratt Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Wood 8 Panel Howe Pony Truss, Fixed
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1888 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
125 Feet (38.1 Meters)
Structure Length
253 Feet (77.1 Meters)
Roadway Width
Not Available
1 Main Span(s) and 2 Approach Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This bridge is a unique collection of bridge spans, each one being different in design and construction date as well. The bridge today is part of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, which is preserved and operated as a museum and a functioning scenic tour railroad line. Please visit the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Website to learn more. Thanks are due to Jeff Ellingson, museum curator for the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad for revealing the history and origins of the spans of this bridge.

From west to east, the bridge is configured as follows. First, there is a riveted through plate girder span. A plaque on this bridge indicates that the Lassig Plant of Chicago of the American Bridge Company built this span in 1901. This construction date indicates this is one of the earliest bridges built by the American Bridge Company which formed in 1900. This span was originally located on the Pleasant Valley Branch in Utah and was relocated here in 1927.

The next span of the bridge is a pin-connected Pratt through truss with ornamented portal bracing. This span was built in 1888, and was originally located over the Conejos River near Antonito. It was relocated here in 1917.

Lastly, the east end of the bridge has a rare Howe timber pony truss span with cast iron connection pieces. This span was built in 1936.

The reason for the different spans on this bridge comes from various floods, including the first in 1885, and also the flood in 1911.

Each span of this bridge is an outstanding example of its type. Timber railroad truss bridges are extremely rare, the Pratt truss span is noted for its ornamented portal bracing, and the plate girder span is noteworthy as an extremely early example of a bridge built by the American Bridge Company which was newly formed at that time. The plaque for the plate girder span references the former Lassig Bridge Works and in fact still uses the same shape plaque used by Lassig before purchase by American Bridge Company. Eventually American Bridge would use a standard plaque design, but in these early years the designs of purchased companies were sometimes still used.


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