Mystery Bridge Nr. 123: The Kansas City & Leavenworth Interurban Railway Trestle near Lansing, Kansas


Prior to the closing deadline for entries to this year’s Bridgehunter Awards, one person had a recent discovery that had been buried for many decades until it was dug up. Little did Breck Ricketts realize that the discovery was much bigger than thought and it has a history going almost a century back.  This is what I received via mail a couple weeks ago:

I have discovered a long and completely buried electric railway trestle spanning about 1000 feet long and 30 feet high over ‘9 mile creek’, Lansing Kansas. The railway was the “Kansas City & Leavenworth Interurban Railway” chartered in 1897 and running from 1900 to 1930. The railway was dismantled after its demise in 1938, and every bit of this railway has been long gone for years, until I recently found out the HUGE mound of chat (from the Lansing Prison Coal mine next door) that looked like the railway bed, actually was just 70 millions pounds of chat COVERING the old riveted iron railway trestle. The flood-way was widened about 15 years ago, and about 20 feet of the trestle was ripped our and tossed aside.


According to Ricketts, what he had dug up were two metal objects that were 2 feet wide and eight feet in between, thus making it a trestle span. It is possible that the structure may have been buried in dirt and running full length along a berm that is estimated to be at 1000 feet long. Drawings revealed that the height of the trestles before they were buried were between 22 and 24 feet tall and 22 feet high; enough for two trolley tracks.

construction dims

Another photo revealed that the trestle was part of a through truss span, which featured an upper deck for Trolleys and a lower deck for cars. This would make the span even longer than the former double-decker truss span at Inver Grove Heights in Minnesota (two of the spans plus part of the through truss span have been preserved) or even the Foxboro Bridge in Pennsylvania (which has been extant since 2008).  It is estimated that the main spans themselves may be 1000 feet long in total and the approach spans totalling just as long.

construction style

Yet this discovery is only a fraction of  what has yet to be excavated and one digger will not be enough to help uncover a Bridge that has been buried in the dirt for over 60 years.  While manpower and politics will help in encouraging the continuation of the excavation, just as equally important is the Research on the bridge’s history. The history of the line can be found in the text with a link under the name of the interurban line.

If you know of any more information about the trestle and its history or would like to help with the excavation, please contact Breck Ricketts using the following telephone number: 913-271-7314. You can also leave a comment here in the Chronicles.  This trestle has been nominated for this year’s Bridgehunter Awards under the categories of Best Kept Secret Individual Bridge and Mystery Bridge.