The contest

Two Dakota County landmarks are on a list of 25 statewide competing for a chunk of $1 million in grants to help preserve historic places, and the public will decide the winner through a Facebook vote. Pilot Knob, a historic hill in Mendota Heights, and the Waterford Iron Bridge in tiny Waterford Township are finalists for the prize, offered through the Partners in Preservation program. The winner of the vote is guaranteed its full grant request. Officials will put their heads together to decide how to dole out the rest of the $1 million to the most worthy contenders.

The Waterford Bridge

Built in 1909, the bridge is notable as an early use of the "hot weld" construction method as well as for its "camelback" truss design. It was used for vehicle traffic through 2009, and it's been a pedestrian bridge since then. Township officials say it's one of the last bridges of its type standing. Waterford Township is in extreme southern Dakota County, just northeast of Northfield. The bridge over the Cannon River has needed repairs after flooding in recent decades, and the township hopes to continue to shore it up so pedestrians can use it for years to come.

Pilot Knob

On the east end of the Mendota Bridge, south of Hwy. 55, Pilot Knob is notable for its role in state history. Dakota people held gatherings and burials there and continue to use the site for ceremonies. The hill overlooks the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers and Fort Snelling, and it affords a view of downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The city of Mendota Heights is seeking funds to remove utility poles, restore areas disturbed by the burial of utility lines and implement a management plan for the 25-acre site. The plan is to restore it to an oak savannah, similar to its presettlement condition, and to hold the site as open space in perpetuity.


Predictably, backers of each site are doing their best to get out the vote, helpfully pointing out that everybody can vote once a day, every day. To vote, visit To learn more, go to Voting continues through Oct. 12.