Majestic Minneapolis: The Stone Arch Bridge

As the sun fell on a flawless late August day, the Malaysian and I found our stomachs comfortably refueled, our legs ready to walk, and our camera ready to take pictures of something other than food.

Where to spend a fantastic, almost fall Minnesota night in Minneapolis to snap a few pictures and act like kids as added bonuses? GPS set to Stone Arch Bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge of 2011 is a beautiful place for bikers, walkers and photographers to view St. Anthony Falls, but was actually a working railroad bridge until 1973.

Some fun facts about the bridge (just in case you’re in 5th grade and doing a research paper):

  • The Stone Arch Bridge is the only bridge of its kind over the entire Mississippi River.. You know, this river is pretty long.
  • This bridge 2,100 feet long, 28 feet wide and 100,000 tons of native granite (Yes St. Cloud!), limestone and 23 arches.
  • Up and coming railroad engineer, James J. Hill, was sought out to originally build this structure to bring more people into the young but booming Minneapolis downtown. He was responsible for ushering in the railroad age to the city in 1883.
  • Construction workers who built this bridge in just a few years were paid $1.25 a day for their efforts. Guess what? Most everyone was an immigrant, and our nation and cities wouldn’t be what they are today without immigrant labor.
  • In its prime, 82 packed passenger trains crossed the bridge on any given day.
  • With the advent of air travel, passenger cars emptied and the bridge was closed. For a few years, the bridge was only used by “transients sharing a cheap bottle of wine, or teens looking for a secluded place to engage in mischievous behaviour.”

The Stone Arch Bridge was conveniently situated near Minneapolis’ saw and flour mills that lined the waterfront. Today, the bridge towers over the archaeological site of the Mill City Ruins where one can see the roots of what the city was built upon.

Want to learn more about Stone Arch and Minneapolis history?

I’ll give you 2 awesome ways:

Watch this 30 minute, beautifully sound-tracked vid on the bridge.

Take a walking tour of the bridge and ruins from the Mill City Museum… I know I intend to.