ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin

         Link to Railroads overview file

Railroad Bridges over the Rock

C M & St Paul Railway Bridge


c1860         WHS_006_320



04 10       The railroad bridge over Rock River is now in course of construction.  Some ten men are busily engaged on it all the time, and all the timber is now on the ground.  It is to be a substantial and durable structure, and built in the form that will give it the greatest strength and safety.   WD



07 18       The Logs Come Down — Yesterday, being at the depot of the Chicago and North Western Railroad in this  city, we saw a train of cars loaded with pine logs, destined for Janesville.  Learning that they were to be dumped into Rock River, from the railroad bridge, about a mile and a half below the city [railroad bridge over river east of former Pick N Save], some dozen persons jumped aboard the cars and rode down to see the sport.  There were twenty-three platform cars, carrying each from six to eight logs.  As soon as the cars stopped at the right point on the bridge, the platform of the cars being some twenty or thirty feet above the water, three red-shirted gentlemen began to tumble them off into the river with pike and cart-hooks, and in about the time a farmer would unload his wagon of wood or rails, the logs were all floating in the river.  It was astonishing with what apparent ease and facility the hardy and active lumbermen dashed the long train of logs into the river.  The time occupied in the process scarcely exceeded twenty minutes.  It is well worth a trip down to witness the plunging of the logs into the river, dashing the water in every direction.  The launching of a ship could not have excited more interest and curiosity.  It was stated that a million and a half feet of these logs were being conveyed from Horicon, by cars to this point, to be floated down the river to Janesville.  They are the property of Mr. Norris of that place.   WD


Cross Reference:  “In 1855 the Horicon Argus reported that the rafting business on our Rock River began.  Norris & Co. were running a huge lot of logs from Horicon Lake through the dam to Janesville.”



07 27       Board of Street Commissioners:

Resolved, That a bridge be built across Rock River connecting Milwaukee Street on the east side and Spring Street on the west side of said Rock River, and that the Committee on Streets and Bridges be and is hereby instructed to procure plans and specifications for an iron bridge as well as for an arched stone bridge.   WG




08 15          Next Sunday morning the railway bridge over Rock River in this city will be moved 16 feet north of its present location to allow the new stone bridge to be built.  It is expected to have the bridge in its new location by 1 o'clock.  All freight trains on that morning will be sent around by way of Horicon.  Bridge Engineer Greenwald, of Milwaukee, and Owen Hughes of this city, will have charge of the work.  It is quite an engineering feat, and will no doubt be witnessed by hundreds of our people.   WG


08 22          Last Sunday morning the C. M. & St. Paul Railroad bridge over Rock River was removed from its foundation and placed on temporary foundations of piles sixteen feet to the north to make room for the new stone bridge being built.  The moving of the bridge occupied 81 minutes, but the adjustment of the approachments and the realigning of track occupied just three hours.


Work was begun at 7 o'clock and everything was in readiness for trains to pass over at 10 o'clock.  The work of moving the bridge was superintended by Bridge Engineer Greenwald, of Milwaukee, who had charge of the building of the bridge in 1894.


Two previous wooden bridges spanned Rock River at this place, and the new double track stone bridge now being built will probably last for generations.  Its cost will be about $70,000.


The bridge removed is an iron one of four spans each 90 feet long and 30 feet high, and weighs about 250 tons.  Hydraulic jacks were used for raising the bridge, and grooved rollers, over and under which were placed iron rails leading to the temporary foundations.


A steam engine placed north of the center of the bridge with tackle attached, and on both ends about a dozen men with tackle, was the power used for removal.


Several thousand people were present to witness the event.   WG


09 20          NEW STONE ARCH BRIDGE

Chicago Milwaukee & St Paul Ry proposes to build at Watertown across Rock River an arch of stone backed with concrete work to be done by the Ry. Co.  A.G. Bennett of Watertown Engr in charge.  [source]  


02 12 1903

   Watertown Daily Times

The railroad bridge being put in by the Milwaukee Road here is nearing completion.  In a few days more the stone work will be completed and the work of filling in between the stone arches with concrete will be done.  When finished, the bridge will be one of the finest structures of its kind on the Milwaukee Road system.  It is built of four arches of stone resting upon concrete foundations, double-track in width and capable of sustaining any weight.  The work of constructing the bridge has been going on since last summer.  


06 06 1903

   Watertown Daily Times


Tuesday afternoon the new double track arch bridge of the C. M. & St. Paul Railroad over the Rock River in this city was open for passage of trains, the Madison-Milwaukee passenger in charge of Conductor Charles White being the first train to pass over it.


The bridge cost about $70,000, and it is one of the very finest along the system. The old iron bridge is being taken down and will be used on some other portion of the railway.





1938 Ad



09 12 1956

   Watertown Daily Times


The Milwaukee Road has announced that it currently is putting into service 100 newly built all-steel electrically equipped “bay window” type cabooses.  A caboose as most people know is the stubby little car at the end of a freight train.  It is the headquarters of the train crew.  There the conductor makes out his “wheel report” and attends to other “office duties.”  Several of the new cars will operate through Watertown.  Originally cabooses were built with a tiny cupola atop.  The cupola accommodated two trainmen, one on either side, who from their lofty perch observed if the long string of various types of freight cars ahead were “riding” properly.


06 06 1903

   Watertown Daily Times


The drastic cut in track mileage being proposed by the Milwaukee Road in an effort to allow the company to operate in the black may include the Watertown to Madison line, James Scribbins, spokesman for the railroad.  Documents were filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago as part of a revised reorganization plan for the financially strapped line.  Scribbins said, “We have not made a final determination if the line from Watertown to Madison is to be included in our abandonment plans, but it is likely.  Business on that track is light and in all probability the line will be up for abandonment.”  The track starts at the Milwaukee Road depot in Watertown when it branches off from the main line and travels through Hubbleton, Waterloo, Sun Prairie and Madison.  Also being considered for abandonment is the section of that branch line from Madison to Poynette.  Scribbins said the distance from Watertown to Madison and to Poynette is 59 miles.



   Vacant Pick ‘n Save store proposed as site for new high-speed train depot, adjacent to historic arch railroad bridge.







C. M. & St. Paul Railway




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History of Watertown, Wisconsin