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Michigan's Internet Railroad History Museum collects pictures and histories from Michigan's moveable railroad bridges.  Moveable railroad bridges generally come in these three types of bridge:

  • Bascule bridges - these types of bridge pivot from one side of the river's shore.  They usually have a large counter-weight which balances the bridge, and then motors move other weight changes which allow the bridge to open and close.  Some counter-weights are enormous, like those on the New York Central River Rouge bridge in southwest Detroit.  Some variations on this type of bridge include Double Bascule spans, which open from both sides and meet in the middle.  Example.

  • Swing bridges - these types of bridges are like bicycle tire layed on its side.  They have an axle in the middle of the span which is placed in the middle of the river.  The bridge then rotates, like a tire does on its axle (except horizontally).  Like other bridges, swing bridges are often connected to fixed spans, with the swing portion used for the passage of freighter traffic.  An example of a swing bridge is the Delray Connecting Jefferson Avenue Swing Bridge over the Rouge River in southwest Detroit.  Example.

  • Lift bridges - these bridges work like an elevator, with a horizontal mount on each side.  The bridge is then lifted up and down, similar to how an elevator works.  An example of this bridge is the Duluth, South Shore and Atlantic bridge over the Portage River between Houghton and Hancock in Michigan's Keewenaw Penninsula.

For more information on these and other bridges, click below.  The information is broken down into four sections.  The first section are bridges that are in current use.  The second section is for railroad bridges which are still used by railroads, but which have the motors removed or are welded shut.  The third section are bridges which have been removed from service but have been abandoned and no longer used for railroad use.  The fourth section is for bridges which have been removed completely.  The final section is for other interesting railroad bridges which generally are not moveable.  This section is limited to bridges of unique construction, length or function which make them stand out as notable.

Railroad City River Type Comments
Active Bridges
Amtrak (MCRR) Michigan City, IN Trail Creek Swing Former MCRR
Central Michigan (NYC) Bay City Saginaw Swing Former MCRR
Central Michigan (NYC) Saginaw Saginaw Swing Former MCRR. Photo.
CN (GTW) Port Huron Black Bascule Built in 1913 [PMHS]
CSX (PM) St. Joseph St. Joseph Swing near Benton Harbor. Photo.
CSX [former GTW] Grand Haven Grand Swing Originally owned by GTW. Photo.
CSX Manistee Manistee Swing Tender shack is M&NE caboose #9 (enclosed in siding).  Photo.
CSX (PM) Saginaw Saginaw Bascule Welded closed.
CSX (Tol. Term.) Toledo Maumee Swing Lower river. Old photo.
CSX/NS (C&O/PM) Grand Rapids Grand Swing Btwn. Wealthy St./US-131
GTW Port Huron Black Bascule Original bridge built in 1859.  Re-built in 1913 [PMHS]. Photo. Note.
Delray Connecting  Short Cut Canal River Rouge Short Cut Canal Bascule Green. Photo.
Delray Connecting - Bridge 141 Detroit Rouge Bascule Green.  Photo.
Delray Connecting - Jefferson Ave. Swing Detroit Rouge Swing Green. Original bridge was from Grosse Isle (Canada Southern). Photo.
Lake States/CSX Bay City Saginaw Swing
Norfolk Southern (NYC) Toledo Maumee Swing - 1300' Former NYC
Norfolk Southern (NYC) Detroit Rouge Bascule Photo
Norfolk Southern (Wabash) Detroit Rouge Bascule
Norfolk Southern (W&LE) Toledo Maumee Swing
Soo (DSS&A) Hancock Portage Canal Various Photos.
CN Sault Ste. Marie St. Marys Double Bascule 3rd & 4th locks.
CN Sault Ste. Marie St. Marys Lift 1st & 2nd locks.
In Use by Railroad, Motors/Controls Removed:
CSX Benton Harbor Paw Paw River Bascule West end of yard
CSX Benton Harbor Paw Paw River Bascule Upriver from above bridge.
CSX New Richmond Kalamazoo Swing Photo.

Abandoned:
Michigan Railway Grand Rapids Grand Fixed, not moveable Foot of Lyon St.
Michigan Railway Grand Rapids Grand Swing S/of Wealthy St.
Mineral Range Houghton Portage Lift Still used for road.
NYC Allegan Swing - small deck Used as a trail.  Photo.
NYC (LS&MS) Grand Rapids Grand Swing Used as biking/hiking trail. Photo.
PM/C&O Pt. Huron Black Bascule w/Tower
Toledo Terminal Maumee, OH Maumee (upper) Swing Photos.  Tracks now removed.
Removed Bridges:
C&O [PM] Charlevoix Charlevoix Swing Photos.  Removed around 1990
Chicago & West Michigan (former Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore RR At Spoonville, just south of Nunica, Ottawa County Grand River Swing Used: 1871-1881 See Note
GTW Bay City Saginaw (unknown)
GTW Saginaw Saginaw (unknown) Removed 1929.
GTW Spring Lake Spring Lake Inlet Swing Removed in late 1970's
Interburban (later PM) Near Benton Harbor St. Joseph Swing Old truss bridge on interurban btwn. Benton Harbor and Buchanan.  Converted to road (US-31).
Michigan Central Kawkawlin Kawkawlin River Unk. drawbridge Referenced in 1870's timetable.
Michigan Central/LSMS River Rouge Rouge Swing Replaced in 1920.
NYC St. Joseph St. Joseph Small pony truss swing bridge Former line to Baroda
Wabash Rouge River Detroit (Delray) Swing Replaced around 1912.
PRR Toledo Maumee (unknown)
Other Interesting Railroad Bridges:
C&NW Near Gladstone Escanaba River Fixed span.  
CK&S Hastings Thornapple Long wood trestle. Survives as of 1989 as a foot bridge.
Copper Range Cole's Creek Cole's Creek Timber 320' long 85' high.  [CRH]
Copper Range Old Atlantic Stamp Mill Unknown Timber 400' long 75' high [CRH]
Copper Range Firesteel River (3 branches) Firesteel River 1,400' long 65-85' high  [CRH]
D&M Cheboygan Cheboygan River Fixed span Survives as a foot bridge.
Duluth, South Shore & Atlantic Trout Creek - Agate Falls Ontonagon River Fixed span Agate Water Falls are underneath the bridge.  Scenic.
Grand Rapids Interurban Grand Rapids Grand River Fixed span Foot of Lyon St. to the Ford Museum.  Photo.
Grosse Isle Stony Island Grosse Isle Detroit River Swing? May have been moved to Zug Island, DCRR
Interurban Albion Lake Shore/MCRR RRs Fixed 700' long, 35' high, largest span is 135'
Interurban Waterville, OH Lima & Toledo Traction Co. Fixed, Concrete Arch 1,220 feet long, built in 1907.
PRR [GR&I] Grand Rapids Grand Fixed span Now a pedestrian bridge. Photo.
Pere Marquette Avoca Mill Creek Fixed span. Roadway abandoned.
Pere Marquette North of Baldwin Manistee Fixed span. "High Bridge". Removed.
TAA&NM (AA) Ann Arbor Huron Long wood trestle. Original bridge. Rebuilt steel bridge continues to be used in 2003 by the Ann Arbor RR.

Note Regarding Spoonville Bridge:  Carl Bajema adds that the bridge was built in 1871 for the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad, which became part of the Chicago & West Michigan (later Pere Marquette).  The C&WM ended up with two lines between Holland and Muskegon when the C&MLS and the Michigan Lake Shore Railroad merged.  The Holland-Nunica-Fruitport line was abandoned when all the through passenger and freight service was shifted to the Holland-Grand Haven-Muskegon line.  Nothing but pilings was left in the Grand River in the 1890's.  The railroad's report to the Michigan Railroad Commission in 1872 says that this was a 1-draw, wooden Howe Truss bridge which was 1,708 long.  Longitude/latitude is estimated to be 43-02.440 / 86-04.929.

 

Note Regarding the GTW Port Huron Black River Bridge.  The Chicago, Detroit and Canada Grand Trunk Junction Railway Co. reported in 1873 to the Michigan Commissioiner of Railroads that this bridge was built in 1859 (one and 1/4 mile from Port Huron) made of iron and stone.  It was described at that time as a swing bridge and was 342 feet in length.  [MCR/1873]

Dale J. Berry, all rights reserved.