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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:
Railroad Officials Order South
St. Paul Fighters Passed
Free in Future.
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)