This article was found pasted into a scrap book prepared by Dorothea ‘Dottie’ Mc Dole.
Transcribed by Lynn McCleary, July 2, 2014

Gazette, July 10, 1986
Railroad Bridge Removed at Cone Lake
By Melinda Hanson

After 41 years, the railroad bridge spanning Cone Lake is gone. It was removed last week after being purchased earlier in the year by the Soo Line Railroad.

The bridge’s two side beams and bottom bracing were removed by using a combination of work barges, hydraulic jacks, a crane, and a semi-truck.

The beams, weighing 52 tons apiece and measuring ten feet tall by 110 feet long, were jacked up off the supports in the lake, put on barges and floated to shore. Then they were loaded onto a semi trailer with the help of a crane, and taken to Letts by Crouse Contract Carriers specialists in heavy hauling from Carroll, Iowa. They were later onto railroad cars and taken to Marquette, Iowa, for storage.

The Soo line plans to use the beams for repair or replacement work on their bridges according to Roger Binsfeld of the J. F. Brennan Co., marine contractors from La Crosse, Wisconsin, who removed the beams from the lake.

“The Soo Line brought the beams cheap, and they’re in good shape,” Binsfeld said. The removal operation began about five weeks ago. The only access to the bridge was by the old railroad bed, and an area had to be cleared to provide room to bring the barges into the shore and to bring the trucks down to the water. After a two week delay for the carne, the actual removal of the beams began.

The water level in the lake was a problem at first. “They told us there’d be 40 feet of water out there,” said Jim O’Neil, foreman of the J. F. Brennan Co. removal crew. “When we got out there, there was only a foot of water under the bridge where we needed to float the barges.”

To remedy this, several culverts at the south end of the lake were blocked to raise the water level. Soon after that, the Cedar River flooded, and water in the lake rose even more.

Getting the beams from the lake to Letts was no easy process. The first time the trip was made, it took eight hours to get the beam on the truck, and another 2 ½ hours to make the journey to Letts on what turned out to be a 44 mile long route. Special considerations had to be made for the length, height, and weight of the load.

In the words of one construction worker before the second beam was loaded, “We learned how not to do it the first time. It should o faster this time,” the first beam was taken out Monday, June 30 and the second on Tuesday, July 1.

The beams have an estimated value of near 75 cents a pound, or around $156,000 for both.

The bridge was built in 1945 as part of the Milwaukee Line.

Photo caption: The 52 ton beam is loaded onto a heavy-duty semi truck from a barge floating on Cone Lake. The Beam was transported to railroad cars and taken to Marquette, Iowa for storage.

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