Gassman Coulee Trestle

Gassman Coulee Trestle

Our May 2010 trip took us through Minot, so we stopped to take some photos of this — the Gassman Coulee Trestle in Trestle Valley, just outside of town.  It’s not abandoned, but it’s a really nice place to be outside with your camera on a hot summer night.

Gassman Coulee Trestle

The bridge is 1792 feet long and 117 feet tall at its highest point. When a train crosses, you can hear the rumble miles away.

Gassman Coulee Trestle
Gassman Coulee Trestle

The Sheyenne River Bridge near Karnak is one step larger than this bridge.  The Northern Pacific High Line Bridge in Valley City is bigger still.

Gassman Coulee Trestle
Gassman Coulee Trestle
Trestle Valley Lodge

Years ago, there was a ski resort in this valley called the Trestle Valley Ski Resort and this was the lodge.

UPDATE: Site visitor Jeff snapped these photos of the former lodge, today a private residence.

Trestle Valley Ski Lodge
Trestle Valley Ski Lodge
Trestle Valley Ski Lodge

Trestle photos by Troy Larson and Terry Hinnenkamp, original copyright Sonic Tremor Media

43 Comments on “Gassman Coulee Trestle

  1. Very awesome pictures! I had no idea that this bridge exhisted. Does anyone know which is longer/higher–this or the Hi-Line bridge in Valley City?

  2. I grew up in Minot… I used to bike out to the trestle, and, back in the 1960’s I could hit to top of the trestle with a rock from the gravel road at the bottom (not when trains were going over it). It is a beautiful structure! Great photos – Thanks!

  3. I live not far from this trestle. I know people that live in the valley. I went to high school with some of them. I also used to go to City of Minot picnics up in there with my father. There used to be the resort lodge up in there and you could see where the lift used to be. You could also see where the road up to the lodge used to cross the deep ditch up in there, there was a large culvert that had pretty much come uncovered and the road was not passable. Upon riding through there a couple years ago on my motorcycle I noticed the lodge was gone and is now someones back yard. I hadn’t gotten into the exploration of ghost towns and abandoned places at the time when the lodge still stood, so unfortunately I have no pictures of any of the stuff.

    • Ok first off I’d like to apologize for my misinformation in the previous post. I just took a ride over to Trestle Valley. Turns out last time I thought it was gone, I had not gone quite far enough. This time I took County Road 12 all the way back to the Ward County Law Enforcement Training Center. The lodge is still back there! Someone had converted it into a house. They have Trestle Valley in white right on the front of it. Also on top of the hill there is a small building next to where you can still see where the trees have been removed for the run and lift. I didn’t have any camera equipment along as I was just going to see if you could still see the lift area and I was amazed to see the lodge. so maybe I will pop over there again tomorrow after work and grab a couple pictures.

      • Jeff, that would be awesome! We were hoping there might be an old rusty lift chair to photograph, but if not, we’d love to see whatever photos you get. –troy

      • I doubt there are any old lift chairs or anything like that left if I remember correctly. I don’t know how close I can get either with the Ward County Law Enforcement Training Center down in there. They have their range and such in the valley. I’ll see what I can get….

        One more thing, I spoke with my father tonight and this trestle was originally built of wood and burnt down. I looked around online and I see there are claims it blew down. I’m not sure which is true, I do tend to believe my father of course.

      • The bridge went down from a Tornado. I have lived here 42 years and grewup listening to the stories.

      • I used to teach skiing at Trestle Valley in the ’70’s (1975 – 1978) while in the Air Force stationed at Minot AFB. There was one T-bar and one poma lift, no chairs. I recently Googled to see if I could find where the ski area used to be and thought I found it. Thanks, Jeff, for clarifying that the old lodge is still there because I thought I had found it on Google Earth Street Level…sure looked like the old lodge converted into a house. Your note pretty much confirms that I was indeed looking at the lodge and ski area.

  4. During WWII this bridge was a vital link and Military guards were posted at each end of the trestle, to prevent sabotage. Troop trains as well as military equipment were shuttled across the nation during the war effort.

    Minot State College also trained Navy personnel (I am sure they were not on ships, lol). Our neighbor’s daughter met her future husband while he was training there. I am sure one of your viewers can remember what the trainees were called. I’m having a senior moment and can’t recall the name. By the way Minot State College is now Minot State University.

  5. Hey guys, I went over there again on Friday. It is all clear posted property thanks to the training centergun range down there. I only took 3 pictures from the road. They are posted here:

  6. When I was in history class in the late 1990’s i read in the books that trestle valley bridge did in fact used to be all wooden. There was a thunderstorm that produced an F-4 tornado as recorded and wiped out the bridge costing millions of dollars of undelivered goods and freight. This is why the bridge is made of high grade steel and each rung is anchored 30 feet into the ground to make sure this doesn’t happen again. The projects total bill was 4.83 million including clean up!

  7. Hi was just reading all the great info and while I don’t have dates I can probably get them. My dad helped construct the footings of the bridge before I was born in 1965 not sure of the year but there was a collapse and my dad and others were buried alive, again all I remember him telling me was it was before he and my mom married and none of us kids would have happened if not for the efforts of the crew to dig them out, I believe he told me one man died, he would have also but he was lucky enough that his hard hat slipped over his face during the dirt falling in on him and he had an air pocket. He suffered horrible back injuries and had surgeries to try and relieve the pain over the years but it was constant, that was from being squeezed by the dirt while he was in it. I went to school in Harrison township and drove under that bridge everyday, twice a day on the way to school. The ski resort was a big deal and I remember driving by it, it did indeed have ski lift chair but they were taken out when it closed, I want to say the Maragos family in Minot owned it but I could be wrong.

    • Hi Julie , I was not aware that your dad worked on the bridge… God rest his soul. Many memories from back in the day…I do remember something of a fire tho…and that ski resort ..ugh! I could never make it up the hill…lol…so I just scooted down on my butt.

      • I lived at Minot AFB from 1976-1979. My parents told me to do things the natives did and learn to love the area that way. I did and I still look back with fond memories of the area which was so different from my home on the beach in Gulfport, Mississippi. Never having tried skiing, I went to Trestle Ski Lodge. Those blasted stretchy ropes with attached Frisbees!! I could not get up the hill on them! So I played Snow Bunny in the lodge. Still, a great memory!!

  8. I went skiing at Trestle Valley when I was stationed at the base in the ’70s. I don’t remember if they had chair lifts – because of the low terrain, I’m guessing it was T-bars or Pomas. I do remember that we needed to be able to stop pretty quickly, because the lodge was right up against the lower part of the runs.

    The couple who founded the ski area were friends of mine in the missile wing. I since found out that the ski area put them into bankruptcy, which was a shame.

    • I was a ski instructor as well as a member of the national ski patrol at trestle valley. We enjoyed many great times out there. The only lifts we had were a T-Bar and a pomma lift. We did have a chair lift out there but it was only two chairs suspended between two telephone poles and we used it for training for chairlift evacuation for when we skied at other areas that used chairlifts. One of my favorite memories was on a full moon evening watching Amtrak heading up the tracks across the valley!

    • It was definitely a T bar or a small disc that you had to grab as it was moving and put it between your legs…I remember because I could never get it right and only got half way up the hill…then I would fall off. I remember as a young teen, some cute guy was laughing at me as I was struggling with my skis and trying to scoot down the hill on my butt. Needless to say that night ruined me for life. I have never attempted to ski again

  9. Oops, just saw the previous post confirming that there WAS a chair lift.

    The founders of the area were Rodgers and Melinda Bickerstaff. I met them when Rodge was in the missile wing. They started up the ski area after Rodge left the USAF in the mid-’70s.

  10. This bridge is featured in the 1080p Blu-ray “HD TRAINS Steam Giants” by Topics. A very nice hi-res set of four disks featuring steam engines. I found it at Walmart for $15.

  11. That looks so much better than my 2-hr commute into Boston. I love abandoned stuff.

    • It’s not abandoned. This bridge is used daily by the Burlington Northern – Santa Fe train and Amtrak.

  12. I used to ski out here.. the lodge building is still there. It looks kind of small now. I was just out there a couple weeks ago.

  13. My son drove me out there, from the south one moon-lit night. Coming around the corner and seeing it, then driving under it was almost forbiddingly scary, but so cool. The shadow of the bridge in the moonlight was fantastic, and its shear size made it something to really take in an appreciate. I guess the locals call it Train Trestle Bridge, or at least, that’s what my son called it. (Perhaps students at the U’ don’t know its real name.)

    We went out there with “mom” some time later, during the day, and it’s just as impressive, and we got to see the north-bound Empire Builder go over it.

  14. I skied for the first time at Trestle Valley. I remember running into the hay bales that were placed right at the bottom of the hill in front of the lodge.

  15. This is directly across from a house we used to live in. That bridge is the Burlington Northern trestle. That’s what we called it. Train goes over this daily.

  16. When I was on the Police Force at Minot in the 60’s and 70’s I remember driving under this trestle to get to the Police Department Shooting Range. The Ski Lodge was in the same are as I can recall.

  17. As a kid, I heard this bridge was haunted. Does anyone know the story and can share?

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  19. I was stationed at Minot AFB in 1975-1978. Sorry to see the ski resort closed. However, interesting story. Summer of 76 or 77, a group of us drove out to Trestle Valley. Some people from another group and some in our group climbed up the trestle to the top of the bridge. The rest of us walked around the road to the top of the bridge. We were about halfway across the bridge when a train came upon us. We got up tight against the railing and watched as the train passed. One box car passed with the door open. Interesting sight. There were three men in the box car. Two were dressed as cowboys. One had a kerchief across his face and a gun trained on the other cowboy, who had his hands up. The third man had a movie camera trained on the cowboys. We all looked at each other and said, “Hey, did you see that.” Still wonder what they were taping. Cool experience.
    Ron Keefer
    Mechanicsburg, PA

  20. When the bridge collapsed in 1898, it was my great uncle, Casper C. Tangedahl, who swung the lantern and stopped the on-coming train. Charles Oliver Gassman was the first white child born in the valley in 1883 (another great uncle, Charles Oliver Spoklie, was the second).

  21. I HAVE HEARD A STORY , that the reason Minot
    was named the “Magic” city is because when they first built the bridge it held up traffic and men , so a city magically appeared ….

  22. I visited this bridge in the winter of 2011. On top of the hill at the east end is a great place to watch trains, Took some pics and videos and like them so much, I have a pic as my screensaver. Loved your pics! Keep up the fine work!

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