RTD finds decades-old train trestle underground

Next with Kyle Clark. 9/19/2016 9NEWS @ 6.

Construction crews building RTD's new N-line unearthed a piece of history during the process.

They were beginning a drainage project in the Grange Hall area, by the Northglenn 112th Station, when they found an old railroad trestle bridge.

"Nobody had any idea it was here," John Seely said. He's the civil superintendent on the project, and one of the team members who found the tracks. They originally thought it was only a piece of wood. 

They started skimming off dirt and found more of the tracks as they continued. Once they were finished, the crews had unearthed a bridge spanning 209 feet.

Based on the old plans the team could find, the trestle dates back to 1909. Records show the bridge was built for the Burnham Yard Lead over Grange Creek, which flowed through the area in the early 1900s. According to RTD, trestle bridges often covered drainage ditches in that time.

RTD says that in 1951, Union Pacific piped Grange Creek and back- filled the area with an embankment, and the bridge was buried.

Photos: Old train trestle found during construction

"The wood was very fragile. It was all basically decomposed," Seely said. "It just crumpled under the thumb of the machine." 

Historians came out to examine the structure and determined it did not have historical value. They gave RTD the clearance to keep working, and the bridge was removed in about four days.

"It (smelled) like train. And that's the creosote that's in the ties and in the wood. The creosote's what keeps the wood from catching fire. " 

The team is now finishing the drainage project they originally set out to do. They'll cover that portion of ground again and continue work on the N-line, unless, of course, they make another discovery.

"Anything that's found in the ground, whether it be a penny, or a bridge, if it's more than 50 years old you have to call the historical society," Seely said. "I've ran across a lot of strange things but not a train trestle."

Copyright 2016 KUSA


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