Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Bridges, Trestles and Causeways






Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- BNSF



This post will be short on text and long on images, with photographs that I have taken over the years of various bridges, trestles and causeways.  Each image of a bridge or causeway is identified by the body of water, state and railroad (at the time of photograph).  Since trestles do not cross water, at least not in this article, they are identified by geographic marker, state and railroad (at the time of photograph).  Commentary, like my endurance, is minimal.


Lake Texhoma

Located on the border of south-central Oklahoma and north-central Texas, Lake Texhoma is crossed on two bridges by the old Frisco mainline from Tulsa to Dallas, now part of the sprawling BNSF system.  Both bridges are on the Oklahoma side of the lake.


Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- Burlington Northern



Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- St. Louis & San Francisco



Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- BNSF

This is the shorter of the two bridges, runs north/south on the eastern side of the big lake and can be reached for photography by a primitive road that runs down to a dilapidated boat dock.




Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- BNSF

This is the longer of the two bridges, runs east/west and can be reached for photography only by a substantial hike.



Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- BNSF



Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- Kiamichi Railroad

The Kiamichi Railroad operates an old Frisco branch line from Madill, Oklahoma, to Hope, Arkansas.  Right of this image is Lakeside Junction, where the Kiamichi tracks end.  The Kiamichi has trackage rights across the lake to Madill, an old division point on the Frisco.  The railroad is named after the Kiamichi Mountains, a sub-range of the Ouichita Mountains in southeastern Oklahoma.




Lake Texhoma -- Oklahoma Side -- BNSF



Dallas, Texas

Union Pacific's bridge across the Trinity River west of downtown Dallas provides the setting for wonderful and remarkably isolated urban rail photography.  The images show no water, because the Trinity River through Dallas is usually about ten yards wide and maybe six inches deep.  From the prime photographic locations, you can't see the tiny amount of water in the channel.


Trinity River -- Dallas, Texas -- Union Pacific

Trinity River -- Dallas, Texas -- Union Pacific

Trinity River -- Dallas, Texas -- Union Pacific



Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Oklahoma City in the year of this post (2019) is like Dallas in 1960, with a population of about 650,000, just beginning to experience serious highway congestion, striving to move into the "big leagues."  And the rest of the country today considers Oklahoma City in the same way it considered Dallas in 1960 -- unsophisticated, boorish, not worth significant time or consideration.

The early images were taken when the Oklahoma River (then called the North Canadian) was even smaller than the Trinity in Dallas, so the early images only show the bridge.  The river was dammed in the early 21st century, when the name was changed, so the later images show plenty of water.


Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific

This is image a little confusing, because when taken, the Missouri, Kansas and Texas was running a daily train over Rock Island trackage rights to the junction with the Katy mainline in McAlester, Oklahoma.


Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific

Here is the home railroad on the same bridge.



Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- BNSF



Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- St. Louis and San Francisco

This is the old Frisco route to southwestern Oklahoma and Floydada, Texas, where it interchanged traffic with the Santa Fe.  The line is now operated by the Stillwater Central Railroad and sees little traffic.  There is a tiny amount of water in the river, but it is out of sight below the pylons.  The bridge is no longer used today.  





Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- Stillwater Central



Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- Stillwater Central




Oklahoma River -- Oklahoma City, Oklahoma -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe



Pecos River

The Pecos River in east-central New Mexico, at Fort Sumner, is little more than a trickle, yet with a flood plain so wide that the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe was required to construct a bridge totally out of proportion to the amount of water being crossed.


Pecos River -- Fort Sumner, New Mexico -- BNSF

Pecos River -- Fort Sumner, New Mexico -- BNSF

Pecos River -- Fort Sumner, New Mexico -- BNSF



Lake Eufaula

There are at least two Lake Eufaulas in the United States -- one on the Alabama/Georgia border, the other in east-central Oklahoma.  The formal name of the lake in Alabama/Georgia is the Walter F. George Lake, but most folks (especially in Alabama) call it Lake Eufaula.  But we are not interested in that lake, which makes me wonder why I even mentioned it.  The following images were taken of trains on the two causeways of Lake Eufaula, Oklahoma, both when the tracks were operated by the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad, and later by the Union Pacific.


Lake Eufaula (South Causeway) -- Oklahoma -- Missouri, Kansas and Texas



Lake Eufaula (North Causeway) -- Oklahoma -- Missouri, Kansas and Texas



Lake Eufaula (South Causeway) -- Oklahoma -- Union Pacific

Lake Eufaula (South Causeway) -- Oklahoma -- Union Pacific


Red River

Many years ago, the Frisco, Katy and MoPac lines running north to south across Oklahoma all crossed the Red River into Texas on the same bridge (owned and operated by the Katy).  Today (2019), the MoPac line is abandoned, but the Union Pacific and BNSF still use the same bridge to reach the Lone Star State.  Because the United States Supreme Court has declared that the southern boundary of Oklahoma is the southern bank of the river, the entire bridge is located in Oklahoma.  See Oklahoma v. Texas 260 U.S. 606 (1923).




Red River -- Oklahoma -- St. Louis and San Francisco




Red River -- Oklahoma -- BNSF


Red River -- Oklahoma -- Union Pacific


Red River -- Oklahoma -- Union Pacific


Abo Canyon

Abo Canyon is policed heavily today, but back when Santa Fe ran the show, one could hike into the ravine and take photographs of the bridges.


Abo Canyon -- New Mexico -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe

Abo Canyon -- New Mexico -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe

Abo Canyon -- New Mexico -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe

Abo Canyon -- New Mexico -- Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe


Glacier National Park

The old Great Northern line across Marias Pass contains some of the most beautiful and well-known bridges and trestles in North America, showcasing the magnificent scenery in Glacier National Park.  The size of the mountains makes one feel rather insignificant, like a small child sitting with the adults in church.  Following are images of structures that many railfans have photographed through the years.



Glacier National Park -- Montana -- BNSF

Glacier National Park -- Montana -- BNSF

Glacier National Park -- Montana -- BNSF

Glacier National Park -- Montana -- BNSF




Cimarron River

The Cimarron River begins in the Raton-Clayton volcano field of northeast New Mexico, runs slightly farther northeast into southwestern Kansas, then turns southwest and flows most of its length in Oklahoma to its confluence with the Arkansas River in what is now Lake Keystone near Tulsa.  The river is crossed by five major rail lines:  (1) Union Pacific (to El Paso) in southwestern Kansas; (2) BNSF (Transcon) in northwest Oklahoma; (3) Union Pacific (to Fort Worth) in west central Oklahoma; (4) BNSF (to Forth Worth) in central Oklahoma; (5) BNSF (Avard Subdivision west to Transcon) in northeastern Oklahoma.  Many years ago, before a flood washed out the bridge, the river was also crossed by the M-K-T line to Oklahoma City.  All of these locations are represented in the images below.


Cimarron River -- Kansas -- Union Pacific to El Paso

Cimarron River -- Kansas -- Union Pacific to El Paso



Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- BNSF Transcon

Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- BNSF Transcon

Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- Union Pacific to Fort Worth


Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- AT&SF to Fort Worth

This may be the oldest railroad photograph in my collection -- Santa Fe's Texas Chief shortly before the creation of Amtrak.


Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- BNSF West to Transcon



Cimarron River -- Oklahoma -- MKT to Oklahoma City (Bridge Now Washed Out)


Canadian River

The source of the Canadian River, the longest tributary of the Arkansas River, is in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado.  From there the waters flow into northern New Mexico, then the Texas Panhandle and finally into Oklahoma where the river joins the Arkansas at the Robert S. Kerr Reservoir, about 40 miles west of the Arkansas border.


Canadian River -- Logan, New Mexico -- Union Pacific

Canadian River -- Logan, New Mexico -- Union Pacific



Canadian River -- Slaughterville, Oklahoma -- BNSF

Canadian River -- Slaughterville, Oklahoma -- BNSF



Kansas City (Santa Fe Junction)

Santa Fe Junction is, for my money at least, the premier train watching location in Kansas City, which again for my money, is the premier train watching town in the United States.  The "High Line" and the "Flyover" present beautiful photographic opportunities of trains on magnificent urban trestles.


Santa Fe Junction -- Kansas City, Missouri -- Kansas City Terminal Railroad

Santa Fe Junction -- Kansas City, Missouri -- Kansas City Terminal Railroad

Santa Fe Junction -- Kansas City, Missouri -- Kansas City Terminal Railroad

Santa Fe Junction -- Kansas City, Missouri -- Kansas City Terminal Railroad

Santa Fe Junction -- Kansas City, Missouri -- Kansas City Terminal Railroad



St. Louis

I worked as an attorney in St. Louis for six years in the 1990's and was fortunate to take a number of images in this great railroad city.  I rank St. Louis as the third greatest railroad town in the United States, behind only (1) Kansas City and (2) Chicago.  The Terminal Railroad Association (TRRA) operates two elevated sections of track that provide stunning views.

Elevated track beneath King Bridge -- St. Louis Missouri -- Terminal Railroad Association

Elevated track beneath Gateway Arch -- East St. Louis, Illinois -- Terminal Railroad Association




Soo Line -- Upper Mississippi River

In the mid-1990's, when Bill Clinton was president, I spent some time on the upper Mississippi River.  I had intended to photograph the Burlington Northern, but all American Railroads went on strike.  Because of its Canadian ownership, the Soo Line continued running, and I obtained several images of red and white power along the causeways and bridges beside the mighty waters.  For me, standing along the Mississippi River produced the same feeling of insignificance as looking into a clear western nighttime sky in the middle of the Mojave Desert.  I am so small, and that which I do not understand is so large.


Mississippi River -- La Crosse, Wisconsin -- Soo Line

Mississippi River -- La Crosse, Wisconsin -- Soo Line




Perryville, Maryland -- Susquehanna River

Early in the 21st century, I visited my friend Dale Jacobson at his home in Greenbelt, Maryland.  One afternoon, we drove to Perryville, Maryland, where we photographed both CSX and Amtrak crossing the Susquehanna River.

Susquehanna River -- Perryville, Maryland -- Amtrak

Susquehanna River -- Perryville, Maryland -- CSX


Sacramento Wash

From Kingman, Arizona, to Needles, California, BNSF's transcontinental mainline runs south through the Sacramento Valley to the terminal end of the Black Mountains, then turns west to cross the Colorado River.  At one location, the tracks run very close to the peaks  and cross the Sacramento Wash on a magnificent, open-span, steel bridge.  To look at the wash, you would think that it never sees water, for the stream bed is filled with cacti and creosote bushes.  Don't be fooled.  When it does rain in the desert -- and it does from time to time -- water can fall in torrents, and the Sacramento Wash can turn as dark and dangerous as a copper head, which is why the bridge is so enormous.

Sacramento Wash -- Sacramento Valley, Arizona -- BNSF

Sacramento Wash -- Sacramento Valley, Arizona -- BNSF



Arbuckle Mountains

The Arbuckle Mountains, remnants of a once huge mountain chain, rise from the ground like dumplings deposited halfway between Oklahoma City and Dallas.  The Washita River runs through the mountains, as does the BNSF mainline (former Santa Fe) from Kansas City to the Gulf.  The railroad bridge over the river is very isolated, requiring a several miles hike to be photographed, but I have always felt that the result was worth the effort.


Washita River -- Arbuckle Mountains -- BNSF

Washita River -- Arbuckle Mountains -- AT&SF



Mullan Pass

Since Tennessee Pass closed in the mid-1990's, the eastern slope of Mullan Pass has become my favorite railroad grade in the lower 48 American states.  Loaded coal trains grinding upgrade often go into emergency as knuckles explode like cedar trees in a forest fire.  The east side of the mountain contains two of the most picturesque trestles in the world -- Greenhorn Trestle and Mullan Trestle.  Both are relatively easy to photograph.

Greenhorn Trestle -- Mullan Pass -- Montana Rail Link

Greenhorn Trestle -- Mullan Pass -- Montana Rail Link



Mullan Trestle -- Mullan Pass -- Montana Rail Link

Mullan Trestle -- Mullan Pass -- Montana Rail Link



One-Offs

The images in this section stand alone, because I do not have any other similar images with which to form a category.  Or perhaps the photographs are part of a larger structure that I cannot perceive, like individual stars in the night sky that appear to be alone, but actually are part of the same galaxy.  In any event, I do not perceive the galaxy, so here here are the stars.


Hudson River -- Bear Mountain, New York -- Conrail



Susquehanna River -- Rockville Bridge, Pennsylvania -- Conrail 



Wolf Creek -- North Bergan, New Jersey -- New York, Susquehanna and Western



Lake Ray Roberts -- Pilot Point, Texas -- Union Pacific



Big Muddy River -- Grand Tower, Illinois -- Union Pacific



Carlyle Reservoir -- Keyesport, Illinois -- Burlington Northern



Colorado River -- Needles, California -- BNSF


Island Bayou -- Calera, Oklahoma -- Union Pacific 



Mississippi River -- Louisiana, Missouri -- Gateway Western



Arkansas River

In the days when Congress was still in the business of creating massive public infrastructure projects, someone (actually Senators McClelland and Kerr) thought it would be a good idea to make the Arkansas River navigable from its confluence with the Mississippi River westward into Oklahoma.  As part of the huge project, the Kansas City Southern railroad bridge across the river was rebuilt to allow commercial traffic to pass underneath. 


Arkansas River -- Oklahoma -- Kansas City Southern

Arkansas River -- Oklahoma -- Kansas City Southern



Canadian Pacific's Windermere Subdivision

This may be the best kept secret in North America.  The Windermere Subdivision is truly spectacular as it curves first left, then right, then left again, on and on, through the Columbia River Valley of British Columbia, crossing some of the most beautiful causeways I have ever seen.  Once you have experienced the width and breadth of this country, there is no going back.  It is like one's first sexual encounter.  The world thereafter is never the same.


Columbia Lake -- Canal Flats, British Columbia -- Canadian Pacific

Columbia Lake -- Canal Flats, British Columbia -- Canadian Pacific

Columbia River -- Spillimacheen, British Columbia -- Canadian Pacific 



Lake Pend Oreille

We close this survey at Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho, where the former Great Northern (now BNSF) and Northern Pacific (now Montana Rail Link) crossed the severely blue waters of one of the deepest lakes in North America.  This is a location in which it is almost impossible to take a bad photograph, though I have certainly, from time to time, made heroic efforts in that direction.  Bodies of water lend themselves to railroad photography as clearly as mountains, and Lake Pend Oreille perhaps most of all.  

We stop here because the author is losing steam, but one can rest assured that once water has been taken on and more coal added to the fire, full pressure will be restored, and we will be back out at the tracks, searching for the perfect image that forever alludes us.  

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."¹ 

1.  Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby. 


Lake Pend Oreille -- Sandpoint, Idaho -- BNSF

Lake Pend Oreille -- Sandpoint, Idaho -- BNSF

Lake Pend Oreille -- Sandpoint, Idaho -- BNSF

Lake Pend Oreille -- Sandpoint, Idaho -- BNSF


To see my other posts, go to waltersrail.com.


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