Built in 1902, the bridge replaced a previous structure that was built in 1880. The previous structure consisted of Whipple and Fink deck trusses set onto large steel towers.
This new bridge was a celebrated structure, relieving a bottleneck on the railroad. The bridge consists of a 7-panel pin connected Baltimore Deck Truss, and an 8-panel and 6-panel version of the same thing. The west (7-panel) end was approached by a single through girder, while the east end was approached by a trio of through girders. This new bridge rested on stone piers and concrete abutments, as well as a steel tower on the east approach.
The construction process was unusual, utilizing falsework and a pully system to slowly replace the old bridge piece by piece without disrupting traffic.
Replacement of the old bridge, showing piers mostly complete. From The Engineering Record, Volume 51
Since its construction in 1902, this bridge has seen little change. It remains a very physically attractive bridge.
In 2005, a fire on the deck of the bridge forced the removal of the southern track. The Midtown Greenway coalition, which operates a trail along the railroad grade through Minneapolis has commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of preserving the bridge.
Replacement of the old bridge, showing various stages of span construction. The Minneapolis Journal: December 12 1901
Canadian Pacific has been skeptical of the proposal, as regular trains still service the area along Hiawatha Avenue. However, as the neighborhood along Hiawatha Avenue continues to transform from industrial to residential, it is likely that the remaining industry will be pushed out in the future.
For now, the possibility of extension into St. Paul is on the horizon for the Midtown Greenway. This structure has been receiving much press in recent years about this possibility.
Historically, this bridge was also a source of press. It was oftentimes used for promotional materials for the railroad, particularly with the Hiawatha trains.
Overall, the bridge appears to be in fair to poor condition. Significant deterioration to the superstructure of the approach was noted, however the main spans were not checked. It is believed that the bridge will be able to be retrofitted for pedestrian use if that plan ever materializes.
The author has ranked this bridge as being regionally significant, due to the large scale truss design.
The photo above is an overview.
|Upstream||Northern Pacific Bridge #9|
|Downstream||Omaha Bridge #15|