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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Miss Louisa M. Alcott died this morning. Coming so soon after the death of her father, the suddenly announced death of Louisa M. Alcott brings a double sorrow. For a long time Miss Alcott has been ill, suffering from nervous prostration. Last autumn she appeared to be improving and went to the highlands to reside with Dr. Rhoda A. Lawrence. While there she drove into town to visit her father, Thursday, the 1st, and caught a cold, which on Saturday settled on the based of the brain and developed spinal meningitis. She died at the highlands early this morning. Miss Alcott was born on an anniversary of her father's birthday, and it is singular that she should have followed him so soon to the grave.
Have you read "Canoeing With the Cree," Eric Sevareid's engaging account of his 1930 canoe trip from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay? Sevareid, 17, and a 19-year-old friend paddled more than 2,200 miles that summer. A few decades earlier, another 17-year-old boy from Minneapolis and two friends set out on a canoe adventure that was nearly as ambitious.
The Minnesota State Fair has featured many unusual attractions in its 150-year history: death-defying aerial acts, colliding locomotives, freak shows, live animal births, the Minnesota Iceman and premature babies in incubators. Wait … what? The Minneapolis Morning Tribune was there: