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Rice Creek Bridge

Mileposts Along the Soo Line

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The Atlantic Limited makes its way across the Rice Creek Bridge in the mid 50's.

Milepost 97.9     Rice Creek Bridge

Location:  Weyerhauser Line, approx 2 mile east of Cameron.
 
Mile Post:  97.9
 
River / Creek:  Rice Creek
 
Structure Design:  Steel Viaduct on Concrete Abutments and Footings.
 
Length:  566'
 
Height:  Estimated over 100' in Center.
 
Status:  Currently Out of Service, the line has been rail banked for future use.
 
Drawings / Plans:  None available at this time.
 
 
General Description:
The bridge over Rice Creek is one of the largest on the Weyerhauser line, the only other large bridges are the St. Croix drawbridge, the Pokegema river bridge west of Canton and the Chippewa River truss bridge, east of Bruce.  The bridge is 566' in length and over 100' high at the center.
The bridge was constructed as a steel viaduct type with a box girder on the top and steel towers supporting it.  It is unknown if this is the original bridge that was constructed when line building started in 1884, or if there was a wooden brigde here that was replaced by the steel structure.
The bridge is now out of service with the CN sighting complaints that the structure has become unstable due to the lack of maintenance since the WC take over in 1987.  Crews also state that the abutments are in poor repair and that crossing the bridge was a scary deal.
The photos were taken in the early 90's and the structure was pretty much the same as when the Soo Line owned it.  There were barrels along the side of the structure for fire control that were supported by small platforms.  The platforms rotted off and the barrels dropped into the creek below sometime in the mid 90's.
 
History:
Some history of the creek was found in a book named  "Barron, Polk & Burnett Counties", "Excerpts from Historical Writings".  It is available from A Plus Printing Company, Tucson, AZ.
 
"Rice Creek was originally named "Wild Rice Creek".  It was named for the wild grain that grows in its shallow sluggish water.  Requiring neither sowing nor cultivation, wild rice was long an important Indian food, so important, in fact, that many a warrior died in the constant warfare the Sioux and Chippewa waged for possession of the larger fields in this region.  Although the wars have ended now, swarthy Indians still gather the grain in the simple and laborious way of thier ancestors."
 
Today, no there is no longer rice grown in Rice Creek.  The waters are now polluted with agriculture runoff and from late spring to late fall the waters are overgrown with thick green growth.
In the early spring, when the water is crystal clear,  walleyes converge on this location to spawn in the slow shallow waters and are easily seen from culverts under Hwy 8, in the shadow of the former Soo Line bridge.

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Above:  These four photos of the Rice Creek bridge were taken in March, 1991.  The line was under Wisconsin Central ownership at this time and saw trains twice weekly.
 
Below: One of the last trains to cross this bridge was caught on film in October, 2004.  This WC/CN train was heading east after completing its switching duties in Barron and Rice Lake. This is proved by the former Soo Line hoppers coming from the Turkey Store in Barron and the log car on the tail end from Besse Forest Products in Rice Lake. The locomotive is one of the ex-Algoma Central GP38-2's the WC acquired when it purchased the AC. This was a typical size train when under WC control. Trains averaged from 1 to 10 cars.

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