Built in 1894 to serve the South St. Paul Belt Railroad and later the Rock Island line, the historic swing bridge spanning the Mississippi at Inver Grove Heights is now being converted to an entertainment pier. Work on the $2.4 million project is expected to be completed this spring.
It’s an unlikely encore for the double-decker toll bridge, which was crossed by countless trains, trucks, cars, motorcycles, bikes, pedestrians, horses, cows and even sheep before the rusting span was closed to all traffic in 1999. All who crossed had to pay a toll – including firefighters, at least until 1919. The Minneapolis Tribune explained in this page one story:
Bridge Toll Fees No Longer Will Delay Firemen on Calls
Railroad Officials Order South St. Paul Fighters Passed Free in Future.
South St. Paul firemen stand ready to do their duty at all hours of the night, but they define fire fighting strictly within its narrow channels and do not consider standing scantily clad on a cold night making up a pot of $1.40 to cross a toll bridge as an inconvenience that must come in the night’s work.
They told Rock Island railroad officials so last week, and now are allowed to cross the railroad bridge on a fire call without paying toll. It all happened when the firemen answered an alarm across the river a few nights ago and in their hurry neglected to leave their toll with the bridge tender.
On the return trip the men were halted and told to pay double toll. The firemen dressed hurriedly. Most of them had left their pocketbooks behind. But the bridge tender was firm, so with chattering teeth the firemen stood on the bridge and gathered up enough stray nickels and dimes to total $1.40. Most of them caught bad colds, too – hence the letter Chief H.L. Ketcham wrote to the Rock Island officials.
The toll bridge, shown here in about 1934, had an unusual design, even for a double-decker swing bridge: The trains ran on the top deck, the cars below. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)
The 1938 toll rates: 20 cents per automobile, a dime per motorcycle, a nickel per pedestrian, 2 cents per sheep, pig or calf. (Photo courtesy mnhs.org)
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An enterprising Tribune reporter got the chance to write about Oscar Wilde during the Minneapolis stop on his U.S. lecture tour. The reporter found the Irish writer's accent difficult to decipher and his attire "too utterly utter" – though by no means unbecoming.
With diamond earrings in her ears and rings on her fingers, Mrs. Lina Dale, who shot and killed William Lear several weeks ago in a fight at the Alberta hotel, 622 Hennepin avenue, is working in the laundry at the county jail while awaiting trial on a charge of murder.
Hartman's first bylined column, "The Roundup," appeared in the Minneapolis Daily Times, tucked away with the agate type on the bottom of the Daily Times' second sports page. The lead story on the front page that day: "Tojo Shoots Self as U.S. Officers Attempt His Arrest."
For two weeks in 1965, you had a pretty good excuse for missing a bus or being late for work in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The two cities could not agree when to start daylight saving time. State law designated May 23 as day to turn clocks forward. St. Paul's City Council decided to make the move on May 9, in line with most of the rest of the nation. Minneapolis decided to go by state law and fell an hour behind St. Paul on the second Sunday in May. It was a mess, but people muddled through.