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Soo Line Railroad Bridge Listed in the State Register of Historic Plac | Wisconsin Historical Society

News Release

Soo Line Railroad Bridge Listed in the State Register of Historic Places

For Immediate Release (September 21, 2021)

Soo Line Railroad Bridge Listed in the State Register of Historic Plac | Wisconsin Historical Society

Eau Claire, WI. - The Wisconsin Historical Society placed the Soo Line Railroad Bridge (Eau Claire, Eau Claire County) on the State Register of Historic Places on August 20, 2021.

The Soo Line Railroad S-Bridge is a steel Warren deck truss bridge composed of five spans and has a total length of 442 feet. The bridge crossed between and connected tracks that ran parallel on either side of the Eau Claire River. The deck was laid out with an S-bend in order to soften the sharp curves that would otherwise be needed to connect the parallel tracks. The bridge featured double tracks to accommodate rail traffic in either direction. After the railroad abandoned the track, the city of Eau Claire converted the bridge for pedestrian use, adding two lookout points and guard rails.

Eau Claire’s location at the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa rivers, as well as the surrounding plentiful forests, contributed to the city becoming a major center of Wisconsin’s logging industry in the middle and later half of the 19th century. Settlement began in the 1840s and depended on the growing lumber industry for growth and development. Lumber companies arrived in the area in the 1850s, spurring growth in Eau Claire and the surrounding communities. Railroad development was critical to the success of early industry. The Soo Line Railroad S-Bridge crosses the Eau Claire River at Galloway (north) and Gibson (south) streets located along high bluffs, in an area of the city that was historically industrial. During its use as a railroad bridge, it provided a means of transportation for passengers and manufactured goods, and was an important component of the lumber trade. Today, residential development has redefined the landscape, especially on the south side of the Eau Claire River, east of the bridge. The recreational trail that crosses the bridge is a key amenity to this redevelopment and the bridge is a beloved recreational feature in Eau Claire.

The State Register is Wisconsin's official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin's heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the State Register and National Register in Wisconsin.

To learn more about the State and National Register programs in Wisconsin, visit www.wisconsinhistory.org.