Maverick Maniac's Musings

January 18, 2008

The Old Abandoned Railbridge

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jon Green @ 1:36 am

So awhile back I happened upon an old pillar off of 245th St. South of Q. Being the curious mind that I am, I had to explore and figure out what this pillar was and why it was standing next to the road. The first step was to google map it. Doing this, I noticed several other shapes that appeared to be pillars on the other side of the road in the middle of a field. Upon closer examination, I noticed there was a clear “right of way” that seemed to appear on the side of the first pillar opposite the road. I soon realized that at one point, a railroad track had run along this right of way, over the first pillar. Across a large large bridge all the way across the Elkhorn River. It perplexed me, because the nearest railroad was either several miles west, across the Elkhorn and the Platte Rivers, or several miles south, in Gretna.

I searched the web, but to no avail, finding nothing about a railroad existing here. The next step was to go explore the place on my own. I took several friends with me, located the pillar again, and looked at it closer, even climbing on top of it. To my disappointment, I found nothing that would help my quest. Part of the problem may have been the snow that was piled up everywhere, so I figured I’d wait around until the summer, when I’d have more time and less snow, and see what I could figure out then. There were also the pillars in the field/forest to check out as well.

Fast forward to today. Bored at work, I decided to try the search term “abandoned railroads Nebraska” on google, and lo and behold, I stumbled upon the book “Ghost Railroads of Nebraska – A Pictorial”. The UNO Library had it, so I figured it’d be worth checking out to see if I could find anything about my mysterious railroad. So toniboght after class I stopped in the Library, found the book and checked it out. I searched “Yutan” in the back of the book, for in my studies I had surmised that Yutan was somehow involved with this railroad, being the nearest town and in a straight line from where the bridge appeared to run. Sure enough, there were several pages involving the word Yutan. The first indicated that there were still piers from an old bridge in the PLATTE River South of Yutan. This may be connected to my discovery, but it wasn’t what I was looking for as my piers were East of the Elkhorn.

Then, on page 23, success! It talked about the “Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy” company. They made some trims to their lines in the late 1920s, early 1930s. The cut mentioned? The “ill-advised cutoff between Chalco and Yutan”. A quick google map of Chalco confirmed my suspicion. This was my line. An old abandoned railway that ran between Chalco and Yutan. A map was provided showing all of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe railways from Nebraska history (the CB&Q became the BNSF later on), including a abandoned railway, precisely where I pictured it to be.

But is the end of the tale of the “Chalco to Yutan cutoff” in my life? I sure hope not. I still plan to go back out and explore the remnants again this summer. There are also some on the other side of the Elkhorn that look somewhat interesting. Now that I know where it ran as well, I may see if I can find anything else along the supposed path. Additionally, I need to check records from the papers from that time to see if I can find any information on this railroad. I’m sure the papers covered it, but how to find out? That will be another tale for another time, but I’m not done with her yet. This pillar got me interested in old railways, and she shall continue to interest me until I have exhausted her tale.

EDIT-Just found a little new info! The google search of “Yutan to Chalco cutoff” yielded the information that follows.

“In 1917 the Burlington built a connector line from Chalco (just west of Omaha) to a point one mile south of Yutan called the “Chalco Cutoff”. It was designed to shorten the route from Omaha to Sioux City by bypassing Ashland. However it did not get very much use because of the steep grade from the river bottom to the bluff, and was abandoned after a few years.”

This was from http://www.rootsweb.com/~nesaunde/1983hist/saco83-p23.html. Amazing!!!! If you ever see this pillar and can envision what the bridge must have been like, try imagining building this thing 90 years ago, and then abandoning it a few years later! What an unbelievable waste of money it must have been at the time. I wonder if people talked about it like we do when we see things built that are huge wastes of money (though keep in mind this was a privately owned and funded track).

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5 Comments »

  1. I think this is approximately what you are describing.
    http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&ll=41.172452,-96.28521&spn=0.130249,0.233459&z=12&om=0&msid=111109529408337915578.000443f6f2e5364b43399

    I have a special fondness for abandoned rights of way – I think it’s amazing how some things last forever and others are swallowed by the earth in no time.

    As you learn more about this line, I hope you keep up the blogging.

    Comment by Ran — January 18, 2008 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  2. That’s exactly it. I’ve just started getting into this stuff, but old buildings, roads, bridges, etc. fascinate me. We’ll see how much time I devote towards it as I go through school and get older, but I hope I can find some time. I’ve also gone and found several historic truss bridges. Nebraska doesn’t have too many historic bridges, and the ones that it does are mostly simple trusses, but there are a few gems out there.

    Comment by Jon Green — January 18, 2008 @ 6:28 am | Reply

  3. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Elfin.

    Comment by Elfin — June 19, 2008 @ 4:02 am | Reply

  4. I live in Omaha and never knew this line existed. I found it in my book “The Hub of Burlington Lines West”. It has every route in Nebraska the Burlington took. Also has a picture of the track. This line only lasted for 10 years.

    Comment by AJ — April 30, 2013 @ 12:51 pm | Reply

  5. Found some old pictures in a family scrap book that showed this. Searched it and this popped up. Nice article; Thanks

    Comment by Bob — April 2, 2015 @ 9:30 pm | Reply


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