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Falls River Soo Line Railroad Bridge

Falls River Soo Line Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: October 1, 2012

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Key Facts

L'Anse: Baraga County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1916 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown

Technical Facts

Rehabilitation Date
Not Available or Not Applicable
Main Span Length
Not Available
Structure Length
Not Available
Roadway Width
Not Available
2 Main Span(s)
NBI Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

This is a highly unusual bridge. The bridge has two relatively short deck truss spans that carry the railroad over Falls River. Also unusual is that the panel length for the trusses is quite short. Another uncommon detail is that while the trusses make extensive use of angles, as opposed to built-up box beams that are more common on railroad truss bridges. This design, which is uncommon, but not unheard of, gives the bridge a somewhat two dimensional, plate-like look to it. Perhaps to compensate for the lighter design of the angles, the bridge's trusses are doubled on each side of the deck, almost like two pairs of trusses on each side of the railway. Finally, the bridge is continuous over the center bent. This is a very rare example of a continuous railroad truss in Michigan. It is also short example of a continuous truss, since continuous trusses tend to be used on large crossings. The bridge sits on abutments that are concrete, but also make use of unusual red brick abutments, visible behind the concrete. The brick abutments are likely from a previous bridge, and the concrete portions were likely added when the existing bridge was built. Red brick abutments are very unusual. Stone and concrete are the typical abutment types.

Plans in an archive at the Soo Line Historical Society are dated 1913, 1915, and 1916, so a ca. 1916 construction date is assumed for the bridge. Repair work was done in 1929. The previous bridge at this location was a 67 foot wooden structure built in 1903. Larry Easton at the Soo Line Historical Society explained some of the history of the bridge as follows. This bridge was designed by the Duluth South Shore & Atlantic, commonly known at the DSS&A or South Shore for short. This railroad ran from Duluth to approximately Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie. This route is very similar to that of the Soo Line (which itself was a subsidiary of the Canadian Pacific or CP) in this area of the U.P. Commonly it is said that the DSS&A was acquired by the Soo Line on December 31, 1960, but only to be technical the legal action was that the DSS&A acquired the Soo because the corporate structure of the DSS&A was more acceptable to the parent company, CP.

After the DSS&A and Soo merged in 1960, parts of each of the lines was abandoned as they became redundant in their parallel nature. Very fortunately the DSS&A line was the surviving line at L'Anse and the unique bridge has survived.


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