Cis, Trentino-Alto-Adige, Italy
(279) feet high / (85) meters high
(164) foot span / (50) meter span
The Mostizzolo Railway Bridge is one of two major high level bridge crossings on the historic Trento-Malé Railway that traverses along the edges of the Noce River gorge and Lake Giustina. At the southern end of the lake is the even higher and more spectacular Santa Giustina Railway Bridge with a height of 144 meters.
Parallel to both the Santa Giustina Railway and Mostizzolo Railway Bridges are 2-lane concrete arch road bridges. The original Mostizzolo Railway Bridge was a steel truss before it was replaced with a concrete arch in 1964. The original Mostizzolo road bridge consisted of a wood strut frame before it was also replaced with a concrete arch. The often reported height of 85 meters is probably for the railway bridge which is at least 5 meters higher then the road bridge.
Yet another high bridge not to be missed in the region is the spectacular Castellaz bridge, a concrete arch that cuts across the north end of Giustina Lake between Cles and Cis.
Opened in 1909, the Ferrovia Trento-Malé is a narrow gauge railway in the Trentino-Alto-Adige region of Italy. Initially built by the Austrian state railways, control of the the line was transferred to Italian state railways after the Italian armistice treaty of 1918. The main line stretches 37 miles (60 kms) between Trento in the south with Malé in the northwest. At the time of its construction, a 16 mile (25 km) spur line was also built from Dermulo to Mendola. In 1934 this spur line was closed and the trains were replaced with buses. In 2003, a 6 mile (10 km) extension from Malé to Marilleva and the ski resort at Mezzana was finally opened.
It is at at Dermulo where the line crosses the deep gorge of the Noce River. The solid, rocky cliffs are perfect for an arch bridge. Rising 472 feet (144 mtrs) above the gorge, the first 1909 crossing of the Noce River entered the history books as the world’s highest railway bridge, a record it would maintain for 50 years until 1959 when a concrete replacement would open just downstream of it. The first span was a steel truss-arch with a length of 197 feet (60 mtrs) between the springing pins. A cableway was strung across the gorge to assist in its construction. Before the two halves of the arch could be closed at the crown, they were held back with stringers anchored more than 20 feet (6 mtrs) deep into the rocky ground. The underground anchorage was only accessible by a 25 foot (7.6 mtr) tunnel that was dug straight in from the cliff face. Above ground there was a stringer adjustment to counter the effects of temperature changes and keep the arch halves level until they could be joined over the river. A similar method was used for the construction of the first 1929 Navajo bridge in the U.S. state of Arizona.
In 1959 a new concrete Noce River railway bridge replaced the older steel arch located just in front of the Giustina dam that opened in 1951. The new dam flooded the Noce River valley for 5 miles (8 kms) upstream of Dermulo. Improvements to the railway at this time included a change to standard gauge track and the elimination of most street running sections. The 1959 arch bridge is reportedly a little higher than the original arch height of 472 feet (144 mtrs) but also longer with a central span of 256 feet (78 mtrs). It would remain the world’s highest railway bridge until the Mala Rijeka viaduct opened in 1973 north of Podgorica, Montenegro with a height of 650 feet (198 mtrs). Today Giustina still remains Europe’s highest railway arch bridge and the fourth highest European arch overall after the Tamina Bridge in Switzerland, the Caille Bridge in France and the Gueuroz Bridge over the Trient River in Switzerland.
Image by Piste Ciclabili.
Image by Opera propria.
Mostizzolo Bridges satellite image.
Mostizzolo Bridges location map.