Abandoned bridges?

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Thursday, October 12, 2017 8:03 PM

AREMA offers a 1-day course/ seminar on "Load Rating of Steel Railroad Bridges" from time to time.  It was just offered at the Indianapolis conference in Sept. (and last year at Orlando, too), but I don't see it listed under the current schedule: 

https://www.arema.org/Seminars/index.aspx 

Inspection and rating of the things is a real specialty. 

More practically, I suggest finding a nearby rail-trail on an ex-MILW line that has a similar bridge - may even be in another state.  Contact the trail organization and find out who did the inspection and rating of the bridges for the trail - most funding agencies require that as a condition of providing the $, so it doesn't go to waste. 

Or contact any of the major consulting engineering firms, and see if they have a railroad bridge practice in the US Northwest.  After a few contacts you'll have some names and firms to approach to see if they're interested. 

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by 2010Challenger on Monday, October 16, 2017 8:28 PM

It's going to be interesting here in the Toledo area over the next couple of years, we have one bridge, the old and rapidly deteriorating Toledo Terminal RR "Upper River Swing Bridge" is raining rust down on boaters brave enough to go underneath it, and makes some scary noises when it's windy. It's a swing bridge, but never had the gearbox installed. It was damaged in 1982 from a derailment. The tracks to and from it are long gone, and it's supposed to be removed next year, or maybe in '19, I keep hearing both years. I wonder how much rust falls off of it every day. A friend of mine went under it last month, and his boat was covered with rust dust and the creaking was scary. I'm going to miss it, I grew up a few houses down from it and watched thousands of trains pass over it. But it's been dead a long time and the corpse needs to go.

And the other one is the former NYC/PC/Conrail "NS Swing Bridge" that's getting pretty cranky in it's old (111 years young) age, and is supposedly on "the top of the list" for replacement for a while now. The rumors about it's replacement are endless. It has a lot of traffic over it, so it's going to be interesting to see where it's diverted to and for how long it will take to do it.

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Posted by JC from Ct. on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 7:47 AM

There is a bridge over the Merritt Parkway in Trumbull, Ct., for a rail line (Bridgeport to Danbury, I think) that was abandoned about the time the highway was built (in the 1930s).  I read somewhere that no train ever crossed the bridge.  It is a sturdy enough looking bridge, but I have wondered why it was never removed.  The rest of the right of way has been obliterated for decades, so there is no "rail trail" use there.

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 10:43 AM

2010Challenger

It's going to be interesting here in the Toledo area over the next couple of years, we have one bridge, the old and rapidly deteriorating Toledo Terminal RR "Upper River Swing Bridge" is raining rust down on boaters brave enough to go underneath it, and makes some scary noises when it's windy. It's a swing bridge, but never had the gearbox installed. It was damaged in 1982 from a derailment. The tracks to and from it are long gone, and it's supposed to be removed next year, or maybe in '19, I keep hearing both years. I wonder how much rust falls off of it every day. A friend of mine went under it last month, and his boat was covered with rust dust and the creaking was scary. I'm going to miss it, I grew up a few houses down from it and watched thousands of trains pass over it. But it's been dead a long time and the corpse needs to go.

And the other one is the former NYC/PC/Conrail "NS Swing Bridge" that's getting pretty cranky in it's old (111 years young) age, and is supposedly on "the top of the list" for replacement for a while now. The rumors about it's replacement are endless. It has a lot of traffic over it, so it's going to be interesting to see where it's diverted to and for how long it will take to do it.

 

The Toledo folks had best bone-up on their responsibilities as a trail owner under the NITU process. Removing the bridge potentially could lose them the trail, depending on the color of title of the R/W (and CSX could be laughing all the way to the bank with $2.65 million of free money. ) Severance happens.

In the case of both bridges, a major player unmentioned is the USACE. If the Corps of Engineers does not approve of what you are doing with a bridge, even removing it, nothing is going to happen. They call the shots, not state or local government. NS has probably been jumping through hoops for years on doing things, possibly back into the Conrail era.

Toledo has been a headache in the past because of its narrow gage past creating problems in a standard gage world.

 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by MidlandMike on Tuesday, October 17, 2017 8:08 PM

2010Challenger

It's going to be interesting here in the Toledo area over the next couple of years, we have one bridge, the old and rapidly deteriorating Toledo Terminal RR "Upper River Swing Bridge" ...

 

Is that the bridge along-side the Ohio Turnpike acrosss the Maumee ?

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:21 PM

2010Challenger
It's going to be interesting here in the Toledo area over the next couple of years, we have one bridge, the old and rapidly deteriorating Toledo Terminal RR "Upper River Swing Bridge"

Looking at the RAILROAD ATLAS (RA), and Google Maps (GM), I see four bridges in the Toledo area. The Northern most bridge (1) which on GM shows as closed, and RA designates as CSX former TT.  The next bridge (2) up river (south), RA designates as NS former WLE and GM shows as open. next bridge (3) is the NS, AMTRAK, CR, LSMS bridge (also a swing bridge) and last (southern most and on the North side of the Ohio Turnpike) is the NS/CSX/TT bridge (4) which on GM shows no rails on either approach. The first three all show rails on their approaches. I assume the one you are refering to is #4 as it is obviously not in service as a RR bridge. Since #1 is closed, I presume it is in service.  

Is (was) #4 a swing bridge or a fixed bridge. From GM, I see no signs of an operable section. so perhaps the river is not navigable that far upstream. Google states it is navigable for 12 miles which would be South of the Ohio Turnpike.  

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 9:56 PM

I am not sure idf this question has been answered? If it has, I guess I missed the answer...Bang Head

Here in Kansas when a railroad line is abandoned, the ROW is stripped of rails, ties, and other misc.'Stuff'...        What seems to get left in place are the bridges. Over or under both roadways/highways and creeks.  They seem to have at least some value [Scrap, salvage, or potential movement to another location(?)]

     Specifically, on the former AT&SF line(s?)that were, abandoned(?) in a series of  multiple(?)  of abandonments(?) ran East out of Wichita,to Agusta, Beaumont, to the area of Howard, Sedan, and eventually Coffeyville(?).   [Part of that line is now being constructed as "Trail", and will run 20 or so miles from Wichita to Augusta.]       There were several small plate girder bridges that were left on the ROW, and were over/under parts of US Hwy 400.      One specifically, was taken out when the highwas was widened.  After abandonment by the railroad, who owns the bridge?

     Pieces of AT&SF were  woven by WATCO (?) into a 'line' that goes from Wichita, to Mulvane [*via trackage rights(?)] to Winfield, then ot Burden, Cambridge, Moline, Longton. and to Independence; then on to Cherryvale, Oswego, and eventually, into Cherokee and Pittsburg. 

 

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 19, 2017 1:08 AM

Sam:

Generally, the chattel (bridge) belongs to the folks who own the fee interest in the land under the track once it has been abandoned. Railroads frequently abandon and they still own the land underneath. There are plenty of places where things like depots and bridges have been sold outside the sale of the R/W. Don't try to remove a bridge unless you have a bill of sale. MoDOT got its hands slapped over such an issue near Sedalia, MO on US-65 about 10 years ago. The tragic Monon High Bridge at Delphi IN was sold by CSX, but as of late, the R/W has not. (Sadly, shortlines and holding companies like WATCO have a poor grasp on what they do and don't own. They are  usually operating people with a very poor grasp on what they truly own. You just saw another example of that in KS on an ATSF line where Brand X sold real estate to a trails group that it didn't own and still technically belongs to ATSF/BNSF due to actions from the 1990's they forgot to follow up on. (The current institutional memories of some of these outfits is apalling. Downsizing after deregulation in the 80's & 90's  truly was dumbsizing as some of this stuff starts oozing to the top. Many of the shortlines look a R/E purely as a cash cow and not a responibility. STB has scolded lowlifes like A&K and Railroad Ventures for their "take the money and run" activities.)

For a line like you are talking about, it takes some serious detective work to figure out who owns what. One of the counties on the old Howard Branch discovered that the hard way near Chanute. In Kansas, in the case of grade separations, think about pulling docs from the defunct KCC Railroad Commission, The County, The State and the ICC/STB just to start. Many assumptions will be proven wrong (MoDOT again - Look at the Boonville Bridge on the KATY Trail.)

 

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by samfp1943 on Thursday, October 19, 2017 6:56 AM

Thanks M.C.!  This kind of stuff is really interesting, and particularly, around here...As you well, know!  There is one near our old home in Belle Plaine, over a creek that the town thinks is their property, I guess they'll find out..That one is on an old  MoPac ROW[ nee: DM&A[ AKA as  the DM&G] RR. orig.  N.G. ROW from the 1800's(?)] from approx Clearwater to junct at Winfield.   The floods of the 1960's on the ArKansas River got that line when the bridge at Oxford was washed away.  About the same time the AT&SF closed their line [nee: Panhandle Div.(?) from Wellington to Winfield [same flood (?)]... [The West end of that out of the Wellington yard is used by a big elevator to load their unit trains.] 

 Job Security for someone [M.C.] in your line of work! Laugh

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, October 19, 2017 9:15 AM

.I shall offer some of my Kansas experiences as Right of Way Agent for ATSF. I have been retired since Aug. 1990 so later litigation and practices may vary from what I relate.

ATSF had Attorneys whose experiences with Kansas law and judicial rulings which relate to ROW ownership go back to the 1870's. My office relied on these Attorneys for advice before selling any ROW on abandonded lines in KS.

Generally the ROW strip, for discussion here lets assume 100 feet wide, is held by condemnation even tho ATSF had a Warranty Deed to many parcels comprising the 100 foot strip. The reasoning being (in KS only) that the landowner sold knowing the railroad had the right to condemn and therefore gave a warrenty deed under duress. Therefore this 100 foot strip reverted to the current adjacent landowner. We prepared a Declaration of Abandondment Document for all ROW that fell under these conditions and filed this document in each applicable County and made no further attempts to disposed of these parcels.  

However when the railroad acquired extra width by Warranty Deed for station grounds, stock yards or any other railroad need then the railroad became the adjacent owner and thus could sell the 100 foot strip along with the extra width. This was the ATSF practice in KS until ATSF turned over the management of its properties to Catellus, a newly created property management Company, in 1988.

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:01 AM

Sam: Following up on the Howard Sub. issue, the STB just closed out the Chanute/Neosho County case today (10/19) under FD-36034. The county bought back 3 parcels of land it improperly sold off.

The reversion that DiningCar talks about does not kick-in until after NITU rail-trail rights have been given up. (and the STB notified ... still waiting for a ruckus to start where damage has been done by a local agency that won't admit it's wrong, lots of them out there, and challenges STB on what a county or trails agency can or can't do with old railroad R/W. There's one claiming a rail trail by statute  on a line in NW Ohio that abandonded 3 years prior to creation of the federal statute and 10 years prior to the formation of the rules that STB is governed by. No NITU/CITU exists for that trail and it was never sold to them by the big blue failure.)

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, October 19, 2017 10:48 AM

samfp1943

Thanks M.C.!  This kind of stuff is really interesting, and particularly, around here...As you well, know!  There is one near our old home in Belle Plaine, over a creek that the town thinks is their property, I guess they'll find out..That one is on an old  MoPac ROW[ nee: DM&A[ AKA as  the DM&G] RR. orig.  N.G. ROW from the 1800's(?)] from approx Clearwater to junct at Winfield.   The floods of the 1960's on the ArKansas River got that line when the bridge at Oxford was washed away.  About the same time the AT&SF closed their line [nee: Panhandle Div.(?) from Wellington to Winfield [same flood (?)]... [The West end of that out of the Wellington yard is used by a big elevator to load their unit trains.] 

 Job Security for someone [M.C.] in your line of work! Laugh

 

You can have that one. (job sanity over job security, please) I have plenty of other headaches que'd up. That MoP abandonment sounds like FD-20272 (7-17-58, Winfield to Belle Plaine, resulting in trackage rights on ATSF Winfield-Mulvane-Belle Plaine) and Belle Plaine east, sometime in the late 1980's... The MoP narrow gauge is always one of those stories I'd like to hear more about (Kansas Central got all the press)....was supposed to connect to D&RG at Pueblo

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by WILLIAM E BACHMANN on Thursday, October 19, 2017 7:34 PM

CShaveRR

 

 
gabe

Throughout the countryside, one of the most tell-tale and lasting signs of an abandoned rail line are huge metal bridges spanning some creek or roadway, yet, sadly, no longer supporting tracks.

This raises a few questions:

(1)  In the discussions to extend a push-pull Metra-like rail passenger operation in Indianapolis, they are talking about extending the Indiana transportation museum line downtown via the now abandoned Monon.  One of the problems/expenses is the need to re-bridge I-70.  Someone who claimed to know what they were talking about said that this isn't a big deal, as there are 14 abandoned rail bridges in Indianapolis, and it is simply a matter of chosing the one that works best.  He also indicated that this is the reason why they leave such bridges intact--so they will be ready to replace another bridge when the time comes.

Is this true?  Are abandoned rail bridges regularly used for this purpose?  How often does this happen?

(2) When the price of scrap metal is through the roof, it always surprises me that so many very large bridges like these do not get introduced to the cutter's torch.  Is this because the bridge has more long-term value as a replacement?

(3) How do they remove these bridges?  Some of them are very large, perhaps too large for any single crane to move--especially so, when it is considered that there is no longer a rail line or roadway to deliver the crane.  (FYI, I think there is a difference between removing for scrap and removing for reuse.  Maybe I am wrong, but I suspect the former is much easier).

(4) Is it ever the case that soem of these bridges are simply abandoned altogether?  Does anyone own them/can anyone--who can do so without tresspassing--go cut them for scrap?  Don't laugh at this question, I realize the answer is probably/usually no.  But, it would seem like some hopelessly abandoned bridges that are simply rusting away, policy would be better served by letting anyone who can scrap them at a profit to do so.

(5)  Assuming they keep bridges around for re-use, is there a directory somewhere of abandoned rail bridges, showing location and type of abandoned bridges?

Thanks,

Gabe

 

You've got an interesting subject here, Gabe, and I suspect you'll get a lot of examples, with relatively fre specific answers to your questions, because what may make sense for one time, region, or railroad might not in other cases.

I suspect that the larger a bridge is, the more likely it is to remain in place, because of the expense or inconvenience involved in demolishing it.

Recycling?  It's definitely done, and if you can find some abandoned bridges in Indy that would save expense over using new materials, so much the better (I don't trust your "expert", though--it sounds like a generalization to me!).    Best example of this being done today:  UP's new bridge across the Des Moines River, which is using some of the steel from the abandoned MILW crossing of the same river (and, as an answer to another of your questions, the old bridge will remain up, according to currwent plans, though it will be used only as an auxiliary track and a service road).  And it isn't always bridges that get recycled:  I understand that one of the C&O's newer mining spurs has bridges made out of former turntables.

A couple of lovely bridges had been employed by the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin to cross over highways in DuPage county in the 1950s.  They lasted long after the railroad was abandoned, and served hikers and bikers on the Illinois Prairie Path to an extent that they probably never served trains (both in time and volume).  But when it came time to improve the highways underneath them, they had to go, probably about 30 years after they were originally abandoned.  Other more mundane girder bridges in the same area had been removed with the railroad.

Bridges disappeared along with the railroad itself on the most recent abandonment I can remember--the CGW line through town, in the mid-1980s.  Some were good, heavy girder bridges, and I'm sure CNW could make them useful elsewhere.  The bridge over the CNW main line, though, wasn't quite as sturdy--and it also represented a clearance problem for the line beneath it.  So it disappeared, too.

Safety can play a role in bridge demolition, too.  Over the Calumet River, next to the Chicago Skyway, are three massive lift bridges.  Only one is now used, carrying NS and Amtrak over the river. There used to be four bridges--two PRR and two NYC, two tracks apiece.  One of the railroads was taking down one of these bridges in the mid-1960s, when an accident dropped one of the massive trusses into the river, killing two workers.  I suspect that's why none of the rest of them have disappeared.  There are a number of other unused movable bridges in the Chicago area; I suspect that problems associated with their demolition, be they the urban surroundings or the river traffic beneath them, will keep them in place until such time as they may be needed elsewhere (I'm thinking of the now-unused C&WI lift bridge next to Torrance Avenue south of the city--that's a fairly modern bridge, and UP might decide to reuse the span in the future).  But the CNW bascule bridge on the old line that went to Navy Pier will probably sit there until a disaster brings it down, just because it's hemmed in by buildings.  And I've heard that the two bascule bridges south of the Loop (the B&O bridge, long unused, and the St. Charles Air Line bridge, permanently in the railroad position) have been suggested for preservation as landmarks!  In answer to your fourth question, I doubt that these could be scrapped by anyone at a profit--if they could have been, the railroads themselves would take them out.

So, Gabe...have I succeeeded in not answering anything?

Edit:  I see RWM has followed me up with authoritative answers for some of the stuff I was being intuitive on.  Thanks, buddy!

Merry Christmas!

 

CShaveRR

 

 
gabe

Throughout the countryside, one of the most tell-tale and lasting signs of an abandoned rail line are huge metal bridges spanning some creek or roadway, yet, sadly, no longer supporting tracks.

This raises a few questions:

(1)  In the discussions to extend a push-pull Metra-like rail passenger operation in Indianapolis, they are talking about extending the Indiana transportation museum line downtown via the now abandoned Monon.  One of the problems/expenses is the need to re-bridge I-70.  Someone who claimed to know what they were talking about said that this isn't a big deal, as there are 14 abandoned rail bridges in Indianapolis, and it is simply a matter of chosing the one that works best.  He also indicated that this is the reason why they leave such bridges intact--so they will be ready to replace another bridge when the time comes.

Is this true?  Are abandoned rail bridges regularly used for this purpose?  How often does this happen?

(2) When the price of scrap metal is through the roof, it always surprises me that so many very large bridges like these do not get introduced to the cutter's torch.  Is this because the bridge has more long-term value as a replacement?

(3) How do they remove these bridges?  Some of them are very large, perhaps too large for any single crane to move--especially so, when it is considered that there is no longer a rail line or roadway to deliver the crane.  (FYI, I think there is a difference between removing for scrap and removing for reuse.  Maybe I am wrong, but I suspect the former is much easier).

(4) Is it ever the case that soem of these bridges are simply abandoned altogether?  Does anyone own them/can anyone--who can do so without tresspassing--go cut them for scrap?  Don't laugh at this question, I realize the answer is probably/usually no.  But, it would seem like some hopelessly abandoned bridges that are simply rusting away, policy would be better served by letting anyone who can scrap them at a profit to do so.

(5)  Assuming they keep bridges around for re-use, is there a directory somewhere of abandoned rail bridges, showing location and type of abandoned bridges?

Thanks,

Gabe

 

You've got an interesting subject here, Gabe, and I suspect you'll get a lot of examples, with relatively fre specific answers to your questions, because what may make sense for one time, region, or railroad might not in other cases.

I suspect that the larger a bridge is, the more likely it is to remain in place, because of the expense or inconvenience involved in demolishing it.

Recycling?  It's definitely done, and if you can find some abandoned bridges in Indy that would save expense over using new materials, so much the better (I don't trust your "expert", though--it sounds like a generalization to me!).    Best example of this being done today:  UP's new bridge across the Des Moines River, which is using some of the steel from the abandoned MILW crossing of the same river (and, as an answer to another of your questions, the old bridge will remain up, according to currwent plans, though it will be used only as an auxiliary track and a service road).  And it isn't always bridges that get recycled:  I understand that one of the C&O's newer mining spurs has bridges made out of former turntables.

A couple of lovely bridges had been employed by the Chicago, Aurora & Elgin to cross over highways in DuPage county in the 1950s.  They lasted long after the railroad was abandoned, and served hikers and bikers on the Illinois Prairie Path to an extent that they probably never served trains (both in time and volume).  But when it came time to improve the highways underneath them, they had to go, probably about 30 years after they were originally abandoned.  Other more mundane girder bridges in the same area had been removed with the railroad.

Bridges disappeared along with the railroad itself on the most recent abandonment I can remember--the CGW line through town, in the mid-1980s.  Some were good, heavy girder bridges, and I'm sure CNW could make them useful elsewhere.  The bridge over the CNW main line, though, wasn't quite as sturdy--and it also represented a clearance problem for the line beneath it.  So it disappeared, too.

Safety can play a role in bridge demolition, too.  Over the Calumet River, next to the Chicago Skyway, are three massive lift bridges.  Only one is now used, carrying NS and Amtrak over the river. There used to be four bridges--two PRR and two NYC, two tracks apiece.  One of the railroads was taking down one of these bridges in the mid-1960s, when an accident dropped one of the massive trusses into the river, killing two workers.  I suspect that's why none of the rest of them have disappeared.  There are a number of other unused movable bridges in the Chicago area; I suspect that problems associated with their demolition, be they the urban surroundings or the river traffic beneath them, will keep them in place until such time as they may be needed elsewhere (I'm thinking of the now-unused C&WI lift bridge next to Torrance Avenue south of the city--that's a fairly modern bridge, and UP might decide to reuse the span in the future).  But the CNW bascule bridge on the old line that went to Navy Pier will probably sit there until a disaster brings it down, just because it's hemmed in by buildings.  And I've heard that the two bascule bridges south of the Loop (the B&O bridge, long unused, and the St. Charles Air Line bridge, permanently in the railroad position) have been suggested for preservation as landmarks!  In answer to your fourth question, I doubt that these could be scrapped by anyone at a profit--if they could have been, the railroads themselves would take them out.

So, Gabe...have I succeeeded in not answering anything?

Edit:  I see RWM has followed me up with authoritative answers for some of the stuff I was being intuitive on.  Thanks, buddy!

Merry Christmas!

 

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Posted by aegrotatio on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:35 AM

Here's a house on a railroad bridge.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home/ursa-creek-lodge-is-a-house-on-a-railroad-bridge/

 

And there's a dance club that was built on the footing of another abandoned bridge, but I can't find it and think it was either in Pittsburgh, PA, or Richmond, VA.

 

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 7:14 AM

Based on personal observations, the St. Charles Air Line bridge is not permanently in the lowered position.  It does get raised every now and again for the passage of sailboats between the lake and marinas further along the South Branch.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 7:20 AM

aegrotatio
Here's a house on a railroad bridge.

Hope it never catches fire - if it does, it's probably going to the ground.  Except for the ends, you'd need an extension ladder just to reach the first floor...

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Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 12:34 PM

I suspect they just re-used old piers, and the beams spanning the gap are new construction.  The beams look far too shallow for the apparent span to be railroad loading.  So, a house on a bridge, but not the original railroad span.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, October 24, 2017 4:11 PM

You are correct. I found this site. http://www.ursacreeklodge.com/tour.html and it explains the building and shows a picture of a CB&Q steam engine on the bridge and details the home which was built in 2001-3. It's

16 feet wide by 88 ft long. But very nice.

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