The railroad has been a central component of New Richmond's history from the very beginning. The first railroad bridge crossing the Kalamazoo River at New Richmond was completed in 1871. It was originally built for the Chicago & Michigan Lake Shore Railroad and was in service until just after the turn of the 20th century, at which time the current railroad bridge was then constructed.
Construction on the existing railroad bridge was completed in 1907. It is a metal deck and girder bridge that was built by the American Bridge Company of New York City, New York. It, like the New Richmond Bridge (57th St. Bridge) that runs parallel, was designed as a swing bridge to allow riverboat traffic to move up and down the Kalamazoo River.
A swing bridge is a type of bridge which has a section of the bridge that can pivot to open the span when needed. They have an axle in the middle of the span which is affixed to a pier in the middle of the river. The swinging bridge segment then rotates on its axle. Like other bridges, swing bridges are often connected to fixed spans, with the swing portion used for the passage of freighter traffic.
The mechanical components of the swing mechanism on the bridge have long since been removed although the presence of an extra pier gives away the bridge's past. This extra pier was used as the swing pier. Also visible is the main gear that was used to turn the bridge.
Today this rail line is owned by CSX Transportation and continues to be very active. It is crossed by 20 to 30 trains each day. Because this crossing is through the Kalamazoo River Valley, the trains are typically moving quite slow as they approach the river. Their slow speed and relatively close proximity, combined with the unobstructed view can provide fantastic viewing and photo opportunities for visitors to the park.