Discover the Highest Bridge in South Dakota

Written by Rob Amend
Updated: November 15, 2023
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Key Points

  • Big Stone City’s 2nd Avenue Bridge is the highest in South Dakota.
  • The railroad probably built the bridge in 1914.
  • It crosses a BNSF railway line.
The 2nd Avenue Bridge is the tallest in South Dakota.

The eastern portion of South Dakota consists of flat prairie. The western part is more elevated, but this area consists of plains. However, the elevation changes within the state are gradual, so bridges cross rivers and narrow gorges at no great height. So, what is the highest bridge in South Dakota?

Lake Oahe Bridge

Is this the highest bridge in South Dakota?

©Bob Balestri/iStock via Getty Images

The Highest Bridge in South Dakota

The highest bridge in South Dakota is the 2nd Avenue Bridge in Big Stone City. This relatively innocuous bridge carries traffic across a spur of the BNSF Railroad, which runs from the Minnesota border through Big Stone City and Milbank. Clearance from the bottom of the bridge to the railway tracks is only 48.4 feet, but no other bridges in the state surpass it—highway, railway, or waterway.

History of the 2nd Avenue Bridge

The 2nd Avenue Bridge was built in 1914, possibly by the railway, though the city now maintains it. Due to its age, the bridge is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Recent inspections have shown that the structure needs repair or replacement.

Where the 2nd Avenue Bridge Is on the Map

The 2nd Avenue Bridge is located in Big Stone City, which is just west of the border between South Dakota and Minnesota. The town is located at the southern end of Big Stone Lake.

Animals That Live Around the 2nd Avenue Bridge

Many animals that live near the 2nd Avenue Bridge can be found throughout the Dakotas and Minnesota. This article will focus on animals from South Dakota and the Big Stone Lake area.

South Dakota

South Dakota has a lot of untouched, undeveloped, and rural land, making the state a favorable environment for wildlife. The coyote is the state animal and roams throughout the state in significant numbers. Mountain lions, prairie rattlesnakes, black bears, and grizzly bears are found within the state, though not in substantial numbers near Big Stone City.

Big Stone Lake

Big Stone Lake is home to waterfowl and a variety of water-associated species. Birds in the area include bobolinks, black terns, and white pelicans. The waters of Big Stone Lake provide an excellent home for otters. Deer, foxes, coyotes, and minks live around the lake. The northern leopard frog can be found around the lake, too. Smallmouth bass are a favorite target of anglers on Big Stone Lake.

Animals in South Dakota

Coyotes live near Big Stone City and the 2nd Avenue Bridge.


Other High Bridges in South Dakota

The next two highest bridges in South Dakota cross Oahe Lake, resulting from the damming of the Missouri River. Road construction companies built the Forest City Bridge, carrying US 212 over the lake, in 1958. The Private Bruce E. Ruby Memorial Bridge carries US 12 across the lake. The state of South Dakota built the bridge in 1959. Both bridges were part of the same funding and construction project and are essentially cookie-cutter copies of one another. They use the same materials and design, and both clear the Missouri River by 40 feet.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Millenius/

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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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