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St. Joseph Railroad Bridge

St. Joseph Railroad Bridge

Primary Photographer(s): Nathan Holth

Bridge Documented: Spring 2007 and April 8, 2012

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Facility Carried / Feature Intersected
Railroad (CSX) Over St. Joseph River
St. Joseph: Berrien County, Michigan: United States
Construction Date and Builder / Engineer
1904 By Builder/Contractor: American Bridge Company of New York, New York
Rehabilitation Date
Main Span Length
234.0 Feet (71.3 Meters)
Structure Length
544.0 Feet (165.8 Meters)
Roadway Width
15 Feet (4.57 Meters)
1 Main Span(s) and 3 Approach Span(s)
Inventory Number
Not Applicable

Historic Significance Rating (HSR)
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Bridge Documentation

Note: As a swing bridge truss configurations are arranged differently due to the way forces act in a swing bridge. At quick glace this looks like a Warren truss due to this fact and also the limited number of panels in each half of the swing span. However, it appears to be functioning, in general, under Pratt truss engineering thought, see the two panels of diagonals pointing downward-center away from the swing pier on each half of the truss, and a single vertical pointing down center at the far end of each half.

This magnificent structure is the last bridge to cross the St. Joseph River before it empties into Lake Michigan, and provides a fitting gateway for boats coming into St. Joseph. The main span of the bridge is a polygonal warren through truss swing bridge with riveted connections. The structure still opens for boats, and trains still use the bridge as well, including an Amtrak route. Deck plate girder spans provide an approach on the north end of the bridge. A through plate girder overpass is present just south of the bridge also. The bridge features extensive v-lacing and lattice. A 1904 construction date is shown as a cutout in the portal bracing. The portal bracing is very much like that seen on the Bridgeport Railroad Bridge.


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