Colorado River Rail Bridge

We’re in the vicinity of Topcock, Arizona. Here the AT&SF line running between Seligman, Arizona and Needles, California crosses the Colorado River into California. There are several interesting things in this photograph. Since we’re well into WWII, note the military sentry guarding the bridge. Also note the gauntlet trackage crossing the span. A gauntlet (sometimes spelled gantlet) is typically used to bring a pair of tracks together, overlapping them in areas that have insufficient clearance, such as a narrow bridge. Here we have the four rails of the two mainline tracks, and a pair of guardrails in the center.

This bridge and alignment have since been replaced with an elevated structure supported from below. Judging from the telltale over the curved tracks leading to the bridge, I would speculate that clearances on this bridge weren’t sufficient to handle the now-common double stack container traffic. This new span is also wider, allowing the double track mainline to cross without the use of the gauntlet. And another interesting note: the Google Maps street view shows the current bridge still displaying the Santa Fe heralds on several spans.

Photographed by Jack Delano in March, 1943.

Colorado Rail Bridge with Guard

3 thoughts on “Colorado River Rail Bridge

  1. Trains must be crawling when they pass the telltale to have had enough time to stop before encountering the superstructure!

    • That looks like a fairly sharp curve approaching the bridge, plus the trains are probably slowed as they go through the diamond for the gauntlet a bit farther down the track. Also realize that the telltale’s purpose is to warn a trainman who happens to be walking the top of the cars . . . tells him to duck!

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