If you know where to look you can still find historic bridges from the original Transcontinental Railroad in service today.
The Southern Pacific (successor to the Central Pacific) would find it needed to upgrade certain old CP bridges along the mainline as traffic volumes rose to the point that the old CP bridges could no longer handle the new loads. Rather than scrap the old bridges, the SP would move then to branch lines that needed bridges but with lighter loads.
Such was the case with our bridge over the Nehalem River on the Oregon Coast Scenic’s former SP Tillamook Branch.
This bridge is know as the “2nd Crossing of The Nehalem River Bridge”. As we were reopening this part of the line up to Salmonberry, we did some research and found that this bridge was built in 1896 by the Phoenix Bridge Company for the Central Pacific. The bridge originally was installed by the CP as the “4th Crossing Of The Truckee River Bridge”. She was installed over the Nehalem River in 1930 by SP after she was replaced by a larger bridge over the Truckee River.
We see this bridge over 100 years apart in the 2 photos below. The first photo was taken when the bridge was in use over the Truckee River at Verdi, Ca on the CP. CsrM graciously supplied the photo.
The first photo were taken by me last week as we ran the first steam train up to Salmonberry in 60 years. In my second photo you can see that SP welded a plate over the original date plate above the track. We plan to remove that plate in the future to show how long this bridge has lasted in service.
The bridge is still giving great service and it is good to see steam trains running across her again!