Preservation group claims state owns aging North Dakota rail bridge BNSF seeks to replace

In a new twist to a lengthy battle by a preservation group to save a BNSF Railway bridge over the Missouri River between Bismarck and Mandan, N.D. — which has thwarted railroad efforts to build a new structure — the Friends of the Rail Bridge is claiming the bridge in question actually belongs to the state of North Dakota, not the railroad.

The Bismarck Tribune reports the preservation group is basing its argument on the concept that Congress held in trust structures in navigable rivers, including the bridge built by the Northern Pacific in Dakota Territory in 1864, and that it transferred to North Dakota upon statehood in 1889 because Congress did not specifically grant ownership to the railroad.