Yes and no. Montana’s Snowden Lift Bridge is still used by trains not autos.

Snowden in Montana, Fairview in North Dakota — kissing cousins

Like its twin on the Yellowstone River about 14 miles away, the Fairview Lift Bridge, the Snowden Lift Bridge across the Missouri River is still standing, but unlike the Fairview Lift Bridge, it still carries an occasional train.

The Snowden Lift Bridge in Montana is just 2 miles inside the border from North Dakota

From the west, Montana’s Snowden Bridge can be seen just barely over the channel of the Missouri River.  It is about 2 miles inside the Montana border from North Dakota.


The Fairview Lift Bridge in North Dakota, one mile inside the border from Montana,  has been turned in to a tourist spot for visitors to walk across and even sit on park benches on the bridge behind the safety of a fence.

The rusty old Fairview Lift Bridge over the Yellowstone River between Fairview and Cartwright.

The counterweights of the Fairview Lift Bridge rise above the landscape.



Both bridges at one time carried automobiles and trains.  Now the Snowden bridge carries only trains. Automobile traffic and pedestrian traffic is not allowed.

Dual Purpose

Between Bainville and Fairview, Montana, the Snowden Bridge was dual purpose until about 1986.  Many people in the region remember driving across the bridge in cars or farm trucks.  The bridge began as a rail bridge, with planks added in 1956 for cars to cross after paying a toll: 50-cents for cars and 15-cents per passenger.

A warning sign on the Snowden Lift Bridge in Montana

A warning sign in the trees and brush on the north end of the Snowden Bridge warns drivers and pedestrians to be aware of the danger of trains.

It was built to lift one section for barge traffic to pass below.  That happened no more than 15 or 20 times, mostly in the 1950’s when equipment was floated north to build the Fort Peck Dam on the Missouri River.


A unique feature of this lift bridge is that the lifting mechanism could be adjusted so that a different section could be lifted depending on where the river channel was at the moment.


The Snowden Lift Bridge lifting mechanism

The catwalk to the lifting mechanism on the Snowden Lift Bridge is dangerous and rotten. A good telephoto lens is helpful for a shot like this.

You can drive under the bridge on the south side, but it’s tough to get to on the north side. 

A gravel road carries traffic under the Snowden Lift Bridge.

A truck passes underneath the south end of the Snowden Lift Bridge.

It’s a mile or two west of the historic two-state town of Mondak that no longer exists.  100 years ago, the bridge was important to Mondak and Mondak was important to the bridge, but that’s another story.  A lynching story we’ll be telling you about when the time is right. Or ripe.

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Did you drive across the Snowden Lift Bridge or the Fairview Lift Bridge? What do you remember about it?


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