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Flambeau River railroad adventure at the Soo Line Library

Flambeau River railroad adventure at the Soo Line Library

I have been working on the Flambeau Paper Company RAILROAD history project. And it involves a Wisconsin Central bridge. That was removed by 1927.
I am getting down to details about railroad items that have disappeared almost a hundred years ago. I may as well get the facts right 'the first time' before it gets in to print. So, it was time to get another source of information.

After seeing the Soo Line Historical and Technical Society people at the display at the Arctic Run Model railroad show in Point, I decided to go to their library. The next day. In Appleton.
It is open just Mondays and Tuesdays, so that schedule worked ok for me.

I never really looked up the library address before, and realized they are just 2 blocks from Mary's Kitchen, where we have dined a dozen times.

Emory L was one of 4 volunteers on duty.
I supplied the city name, Park Falls, and the milepost, 375, and from that he searched the card file and came up with dozens of rail projects in the area that had AFE (Authorization for Expenditure) numbers, dated from the early 1900's to the 1970's.
And then he fetched the box and we went through the projects and papers for the years that I was interested in.
(and afterwards, he put them all back on the shelves, I didn't have to do any of the clean up work.)


Here is a bridge built in 1896.
Bought from Wisconsin Bridge and Iron. That helped me a lot, I needed that confirmation of the design
because that let me compare it to some bridges that are still standing.


And there was a note about foundations, made of sandstone, with the first original construction started in 1872,
with some concrete repairs in 1903.
And the amount of value that changed with the work.


Materials of construction


I got a lot of information from the AFE (Authorization for Expenditure).
which lead to a Completion Report.

The 1927 deck girder bridge (still standing) was supplied by American Bridge Co.



I thought there were only 2 bridges on this site, the original 1874-1875 bridge when the rails were first laid across the Flambeau River.
and then the girder bridge that replaced it in 1927.

But actually, the 1874 first bridge was replaced by another in 1896.

Emory said people learn interesting things from the old records, and that can lead to new mysteries.

My story doesn't depend too much on that original bridge, because my paper mill story begins in 1897. I can let someone else figure out what that first bridge was. I suspect a 4-panel through truss.
The 1896 bridge was a 5-panel steel bridge. I have some info from a picture from the Price County Historical Society, courtesy of John B.


The library had one track diagram of the area.
(Although, Rich P supplied some maps that are more useful)


Now that I have some useful information, I put some on the Bridgehunter website,
in case someone else might see it and be able to add to it.

You may use these links, or search for Park Falls and the Flambeau Biver bridge.

bridge hunter Flambeau River bridge Park Falls 1874
bridge hunter Flambeau River bridge Park Falls 1896
bridge hunter Flambeau River bridge Park Falls 1927

Once in a while, someone writes a note that I wouldn't expect on an accounting report.
Like, the ICC report with a measurement from the bridge to the water level.
I had made my scale drawing of the bridge a month earlier, using other information. And then I measured my drawing and compared it with the hand written note, and found that I was within a half foot of the same measurement. That makes a good double check of some bridge abutments that have been hidden, partially underwater, since about 1923.

I close this page with one drawing that I made of the 1896 bridge.


Link to Soo Line Historical and Technical Society

. . . . . to My Main Index Page on the TrainWeb site.

This page was filmed and wrote about in Febuary 2020.