Valley City Historic Bridges Tour: Exploring Bridges over the Sheyenne River

At 3,860 feet long and 162 feet above the Sheyenne River, the High Line bridge is one of the longest and highest single track railroad bridges in the United States. The bridge so defines Valley City that the local school teams are named the Hi-Liners. In use since 1908, the High Line is just one of eight bridges that make up the Valley City Historic Bridges Tour.

High Line Bridge
High Line Bridge

With the Sheyenne River winding through Valley City, there are a total of thirteen bridges throughout the town, eight of which make up the Historic Bridges Tour.

Starting the Historic Bridges Tour

Stop at the Rosebud Visitor Center on Main Street in downtown Valley City to pick up a map of the Historic Bridges Tour and a larger map of the city. The folks there can point out the best route to take to take in all the bridges. When we took the self-guided tour, there was quite a bit of construction going on in town, requiring us to make several detours, so having the larger city map was helpful.

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While you’re at the Rosebud Visitor Center, named after the private railroad car of a Northern Pacific superintendent, take a look around. The railroad car is a highlight of the visitor center. A fun thing to note is the mural painted on the wall opposite the rail car. The mural depicts people inside the rail car. The reflection in the windows of Rosebud makes it look like those people are actually in the car.

RosebudReflections in Rosebud

Other exhibits rotate in the museum. On our visit an exhibit about Bonanza farms were highlighted. Bonanza farms were large scale farms set on land that the railroad sold to farmers when the railroad ran into financial trouble. New technology made farming large acreage possible, and the location near the railroad was convenient for shipment of the harvested crop.

Be sure to also check out the railroad equipment outside the visitor center.

CabooseLuggage Cart

Bridges

We had fun looking for the different bridges throughout the town. Most are used for traffic, but a couple of them are footbridges. Many of them have been rebuilt or replaced over the years as the originals eroded in the harsh North Dakota weather.

Directly across from the Rosebud Visitor Center is the City Park Footbridge, which connects the park with Main Street. The bridge is also sometimes called the Elks Bridge due to its location next to the Elks Club Building.

City Park Footbridge
City Park Footbridge

My favorite was the VCSU Footbridge, across from the Valley City State University. The ornate 1901 suspension bridge is the only one of its kind in North Dakota.

VCSU Footbrdige
VCSU Footbrdige

The Rainbow Bridge, built in 2004, is a replica of a narrower bridge built in 1925-26. Other bridges in the same location on Main Street included a steel structure built in 1899 and the original wood bridge constructed in 1879. It was the first bridge in Valley City.

Rainbow Bridge
Rainbow Bridge

Some of the other bridges aren’t as ornate, but the surrounding area is beautiful. One example is the Mill Dam Bridge, which looks rather ordinary, but when we crossed the bridge, I was wowed by the rushing water and the dam and the surrounding greenery.

Mill Dam Bridge
Mill Dam Bridge

Mill Dam on Valley City Historic Bridges Tour

The only bridge on the tour we didn’t get to was the Maryvale Bridge, which is a little way out of town. We had been having so much fun hunting for and photographing the bridges that time got away from us, and it was time to move on.

If you take the Valley City Historic Bridges Tour

You can download the map for the Valley City Historic Bridges Tour. However, I highly recommend you stop at the Rosebud Visitor Center, located at 250 Main Street W and pick up the full brochure. Visit the Valley City website for further information. Valley City is also the gateway to the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. You can pick up information on the byway at the Rosebud Visitor Center, as well.

Accommodations: We stayed at the AmericInn during our visit to Valley City. Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

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Disclosures: My visit to Valley City was part of a road trip through North Dakota hosted by North Dakota Tourism. However, any opinions expressed in this article are my own.
This article contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a product or book a hotel room through these links, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.

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8 thoughts on “Valley City Historic Bridges Tour: Exploring Bridges over the Sheyenne River

  • June 25, 2016 at 8:54 pm
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    I have never done a bridge tour! I like that each bridge is different from the other. Greta to know there is a map and information on how to recreate this trip.

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    • June 26, 2016 at 5:22 am
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      I enjoy this type of tour, where you use a map to find various things, whatever they happen to be. It’s reminds me of a treasure hunt. 🙂

      Reply
  • June 26, 2016 at 3:59 am
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    I have never heard of this tour, but Jim and I sure love bridges!

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    • June 26, 2016 at 5:23 am
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      It was a lot of fun checking out the different bridges and then finding the best way to photograph them.

      Reply
    • June 26, 2016 at 5:25 am
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      It was interesting, Tanja, especially reading about the history of each bridge.

      Reply
  • June 29, 2016 at 8:47 am
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    Really interesting post! I especially like the murals on the train car. haven’t had the chance to visit this part of the US (and people keep telling me there’s nothing much to see in the interior of this giant country) but I’d really love to someday 🙂

    Reply
    • June 29, 2016 at 11:04 am
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      Oh, there is so much to see in what some people consider “flyover country.” I think those people have never been. This was my first visit to North Dakota. My husband and I spent a week driving through the state, and it wasn’t nearly enough time to see everything.

      Reply

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