Wisconsin Central Bridge Ruins
Remnants of a railroad history.
Built in 1884, the original Wisconsin Central High Bridge was 2,340 feet long. This single-track railroad bridge was 85 feet above the St. Croix River.
With the river’s banks on both sides of the expanse closer to 220-feet above the water, trains passing through had to deal with the steep grades down one side and up the other. This often required trains to include extra (helper) engines pushing from the back to make it up the steep ascent of about 135 feet.
The Wisconsin Central Company decided to build a new high bridge that would cross the valley at the 200-foot level eliminating the grades. The new Arcola High Bridge was built about three-quarters of a mile upriver, and opened in 1910.
The earliest bridge was removed February 28, 1916, leaving the pictured remains of the original bridge more than 100 years after it was abandoned.
When paddling through this valley, I can't help but think of the river’s rich history, the time before the arrival of fur traders and white settlement. What was life like for the semi-nomadic Ojibwa, Dakota, and the other nine American Indian tribes of this area?
As I get closer to these stately stone columns, it is tempting to get out and scale to their tops. If I weren't in such a hurry, or perhaps much younger, maybe I would. Hmmm.