St. Paul Union Pacific Vertical-lift Rail Bridge

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St. Paul Union Pacific Vertical-lift Rail Bridge
The Union Pacific bridge on the left, passing underneath the Robert Street Bridge on the right.
Coordinates 44°56′39″N 93°05′18″W / 44.94417°N 93.08833°W / 44.94417; -93.08833Coordinates: 44°56′39″N 93°05′18″W / 44.94417°N 93.08833°W / 44.94417; -93.08833
Carries One track of the Union Pacific Railroad
Crosses Mississippi River
Locale St. Paul, Minnesota
Maintained by Union Pacific Railroad
ID number L332
Design Vertical-lift bridge
Total length 940 feet
Width 21.9 feet
Longest span 192 feet
Clearance below 72 feet (with span lifted)
Opened 1913

The St. Paul Union Pacific Vertical-lift Rail Bridge is a vertical-lift bridge that spans the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. This is one of only three vertical-lift bridges along the Mississippi River, along with the Hastings Rail Bridge in Hastings, Minnesota and the Wabash Bridge in Hannibal, Missouri. It was built in 1913 and was designed by Waddell & Harrington. In 1925, the north end of the bridge was raised about 16 feet to tie in with tracks that served the St. Paul Union Depot yard. The vertical-lift span has 105-foot high towers, and the electrical lift system was built with a possible 45-foot elevation. However, by 1973, the amount of lift was reduced to 37 feet, because of aging of the equipment.

The bridge was originally built by the Chicago Great Western Railroad, which later became part of the Chicago and North Western Transportation Company. The Robert Street Bridge, built later in 1926, had to be carefully engineered around the railroad bridge.

In April 1997, high water on the Mississippi River reached the bottom of the span. The Union Pacific Railroad spotted a train of hopper cars laden with rocks on the bridge to help anchor it and keep it from being washed away.

See also[edit]


  • Costello, Mary Charlotte (2002). Climbing the Mississippi River Bridge by Bridge, Volume Two: Minnesota. Cambridge, MN: Adventure Publications. ISBN 0-9644518-2-4.