Prairie du Chien was originally built on Saint Feriole Island, which is
separated from the mainland by a small backwater channel. This is where
the industry that supported the city in the 1800s was located, so rail
access was installed in 1890. After repeated floods and fires, the city
was relocated to the mainland on the Wisconsin side, which was higher and
far less prone to flood. Industry remained on the island, gradually
closing down or moving to the mainland until well past World War II.
The 1890 bridge was replaced in 1898. That bridge was about twice as
long as the 1927 structure. In 1962, the trestle was modified to create
a 31 foot wide clear channel for recreational boaters.
Today, Saint Feriole Island is mostly park land. The rail spur remains,
but it is infrequently used. The rail bridges over the Mississippi,
including the famous pontoon bridge, are long gone. The next nearest
rail crossings are La Crosse and Dubuque.