Monday, August 20, 2012

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

 This weekend I went up to Duluth up on the shore of Lake Superior to look for some dragonflies and shore birds. Unfortunately my fun was delayed by the lifting of the iconic Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge, that connects the city with Minnesota Point. Minnesota Point is a 7 mile sand spit that separates Lake Superior from Superior Bay. Together with Wisconsin point, which extends out 3 miles to the mouth of the St Louis River, this is the longest fresh water spit in the world.
In 1870 -71 Duluth dug a shipping canal through Minnesota point so that ships could come directly into Duluth Harbor, instead of coming in through the St Louis River channel 7 miles away. Unfortunately this canal mad things difficult for those people who were living on Minnesota Point. So in 1905, after about 35 years of people needing to be ferried a bridge was built. The first bridge was a aerial transporter bridge, one of only 2 built in the United States. It took people across the channel in a gondola. By 1929 the transporter bridge could no longer keep up with demand and the bridge was remodeled. A span that could be lifted out of the way to allow ships to pass was added to the bridge as well as adjustments to the top and side spans. The remodel was completed in 1930.    
The bridge is still very active today. It is raised 25 to 30 times a day during the shipping season. While I was there this weekend it was raised 3 times. It was kind of cool to stand there and watch the street disappear in front of me. It kind of reminded me of some of the nightmares that I had as a kid. During one of those times a large tanker moved in through the channel. Fortunately the bridge was tall enough to accommodation this very large ship.


Snap said...

These lift bridges fascinate me. Fun post!

Kate said...

I LOVE that bridge and that canal, which large ships use with great frequency. We drive to Duluth in the summer to enjoy the Lake Superior shore, water crafts, and Minnesota Point. We're so lucky to be close to Lake Superior and the North Shore. You included some great info on the bridge.

amanda said...

Excellent info on the bridge!
Duluth has been the city nearest & dearest to me all my life. But I
I learned some new facts today. Thanks.
Some of our lift bridge photos:

Cheri said...

I visited Duluth a few years back, and I was fascinated by that bridge. I think I probably ended up with a hundred pictures of the thing, because you could see it from everywhere you went!