12 votes

Kern Bridge


Distant view from the road

Photo taken by Jason and Birgit Smith in December 2007


BH Photo #111466


Bowstring through truss bridge over LeSeuer River at border of Mankato and South Bend Townships on Township Rd. 190 and 195th Lane
Blue Earth County, Minnesota
In storage or disassembled
Built 1873 by Wrought Iron Bridge Company Canton, OH; Closed to traffic in 1990
Bowstring through truss
Span length: 190.0 ft.
Total length: 190.0 ft.
Also called
Yaeger Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.10969, -94.04198   (decimal degrees)
44°06'35" N, 94°02'31" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/416614/4884583 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Good Thunder
Inventory number
BH 36213 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • February 6, 2020: Updated by Nathan Holth: Bridge has been picked from river and is being dismantled for storage and eventual reuse.
  • December 13, 2018: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Added category "Othmar H. Ammann Nominee"
  • July 4, 2017: New photos from James Baughn
  • June 27, 2017: New photos from James Baughn
  • February 14, 2010: Updated by Matthew Lohry: Updated GPS coordinates
  • January 13, 2010: New photos from Jason Smith
  • February 6, 2008: Added by Jason Smith



Kern Bridge
Posted January 28, 2021, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Kern Bridge stays home in Mankato- to be the centerpiece spanning the Blue Earth River between the two largest parks in the city. The story with links and author's comments here: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2021/01/28/ker...

Kern Bridge
Posted January 27, 2021, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)
Kern Bridge
Posted August 4, 2020, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Summary of the bridge up for grabs. Currently two suitors but that may change in the coming weeks: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/08/04/ker...

Kern Bridge
Posted July 23, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I am attaching an updated notice for the availability of this bridge which includes some photos of the dismantled bridge as well.

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 3,444,511 bytes)

Kern Bridge:
Posted July 16, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

July 15, 2020: Notice of Bridge Availability For Reuse

Key facts

• Listed on National Register of Historic Places

• Initial Crossing – Mankato/South Bend Ivywood Lane (Township Road 190) over Le Sueur River

• Type – only bowstring arch in Minnesota; made of wrought iron

• Year built - 1873 (one of Minnesota’s oldest bridges) for a cost of $8,652

• Length - 189 ft.; extant longest bowstring span in the United States

• Use – initially used for horse and buggy traffic; closed to pedestrians and vehicles early 1990s

• Removed the bridge from the failed limestone block abutments, carefully disassembled, catalogued, hauled and placed bridge components in storage containers.

• After removal the structure was carefully marked and disassembled into large pieces for future refurbishing and re-assembly

The bridge has been removed, carefully dismantled, loaded into sealed containers. New owners will be required to provide a 20-percent match toward the rehabilitation and relist the Kern Bridge on the National Register of Historic places following completion of the rehabilitation effort. Federal funds are available to cover 80 percent with a 20 percent state or local match. Preliminary estimates of the total cost are around $1.5 million. All FHWA/MnDOT rules and requirements must be followed.

Requirements: Must rehabilitate to historic standards (Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Projects). All FHWA/MnDOT rules and requirements must be followed.

Qualifications: Cities, counties and state agencies. Cities of less than 5,000 population must have county sponsor. Similar to ATP Transportation Alternatives, letter of intent followed by a formal application needed.

Letters of interest due by August 31, 2020.

For more information:

News Release and Information Packet Attached

Visit Official Listing Webpage: www.dot.state.mn.us/historicbridges/available-bridges.html

Attachment #1 (application/pdf; 269,443 bytes)

Kern Bridge
Posted February 8, 2020, by Art S. (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)

Glad to see it being saved.

Personally, I’d love it if they were to fix the abutment and then put it back.

Alternately, if they put it in a populated area where it is viewed and appreciated by many, that would also be wonderful.

I’m not sure who is doing the work but the mention of storage containers is concerning (except for the small stuff). It suggests that they are not experienced in the work. The bridge has been sitting outdoors for a rather long time and the failure issue was the stone substructure, not the iron bridge superstructure.

I am really worried that disassembly is via blowtorch rather than the correct procedure.


Art S.

Kern Bridge
Posted February 7, 2020, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Summary of the bridge move: https://bridgehunterschronicles.wordpress.com/2020/02/07/lon...

Any ideas where the bridge should go, let MnDOT know.

Kern Bridge
Posted February 6, 2020, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

The pick of this bridge has finally taken place and the bridge is now being dismantled for storage.



Kern Bridge
Posted April 15, 2019, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

To be dismantled and stored for reuse. Does anybody have a place where we could relocate the bridge? http://www.mankatofreepress.com/news/local_news/kern-bridge-...

Kern Bridge
Posted April 4, 2019, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

Faced with an uncertain future, this bridgehunter from Minnesota, currently living in Germany, has launched a campaign to find ways to relocate and restore the Kern Bowstring Arch Bridge, the longest bridge of its kind in the US and second longest in the world. Click here, like to follow and join in on the discussions on what to do with the bridge...... https://www.facebook.com/Relocate-and-Restore-the-Historic-K...

Sometimes a backdoor makes a big time difference. ;-)

Kern Bridge
Posted March 13, 2019, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Expensive pull. No one wants to pay.

We have tried but...

Kern Bridge
Posted March 12, 2019, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Well hopefully they get going before that East abutment fails completely!

The Kern Bridge is one of the most important historic spans remaining in Minnesota... Perhaps #1

Kern Bridge
Posted March 12, 2019, by John Marvig (marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Found a couple of things about possible rehabilitation of this bridge. MNDOT has laid out four options for preservation:


A 2017 article states that this bridge is scheduled for repair:


I have been able to find nothing else on these developments.

Kern Bridge
Posted June 27, 2018, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Just needs funding, either to stabilize or pull. No one seems interested.

Kern Bridge
Posted June 27, 2018, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Thanks to Nathan for the update. The collapse of this bridge would be one of the worst losses of a bridge since the founding of this website - potentially THE worst.

Kern Bridge
Posted June 26, 2018, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

It probably had the start of a problem for years, but the real serious developments have happened within the past year or two as I understand.

Kern Bridge
Posted June 26, 2018, by Anonymous

I have never seen this bridge in person. Has the abutment been crumbling for several years or is this a very recent development?

Kern Bridge
Posted June 26, 2018, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

If this bridge is still standing, then it is now the longest historic bowstring span in all of North America. The 225 Foot Blackfriars Bridge in London, Ontario has been so significantly altered that it cannot be called historic anymore. Its basically 99% all-new material now. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/london/london-ontario-blackfr...


Kern Bridge
Posted February 3, 2018, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

It's a sad sad story. Even when you think you have a lead and some hope, then that hope dies too.


The longest bowstring in the US.

Issue: Dollars, always the dollars, probably $250,000 to get it off it's crumbling abutments. We are just waiting for gravity and hydrology to take the span down.

There are no mechanisms at DOTs or SHPO to step in when there is no more time.

It really will take a miracle, or we'll be pulling another one out of the river.

Any and All ideas are welcome.

New Money - Instant Cachet -

RARE RARE RARE - Own a piece of functioning history.

Kern Bridge
Posted June 26, 2017, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

It would be a woefully neglectful loss if this one should collapse

Kern Bridge
Posted June 25, 2017, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)

Field visit today: this bridge is on the verge of collapse. Severe erosion is threatening the eastern stone pier. The stones under the southeast bearing shoe are barely hanging on.

Kern Bridge
Posted February 28, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

A conference call is scheduled for today between many state, federal, local jurisdictions regarding the future of this bridge. I get to participate in the role of funding opportunities, restoration ideas. It looks in pretty good shape from the pictures.

In the interest of the future of historic bridges we are starting another division under NSRGA dedicated to bowstrings. Nathan, you know we will work with all styles, but bowstrings are a first love. Kings or WBCos. I think if we can narrow it down, much like "Covered" we may be able to drive awareness and finances for saving this style, which will certainly then go towards the Warrens, Pratts, Parkers, Baltimores, Ponies that around here we all love. This focus on bowstrings will allow me to work with Sunny Brae on the Gilliece WBCO and continue the in-kind fabrications required for our McIntyre by King.

But it might be easier to take the national market by storm using the longest bowstring in the U.S. as the draw. Any ideas welcome.

Kern Bridge
Posted November 3, 2011, by Ted_Thoreson (Ted_Thoreson [at] yahoo [dot] com)

October, 2011

Kern Bridge
Posted November 3, 2011, by Ted_Thoreson (Ted_Thoreson [at] yahoo [dot] com)

October, 2011

Kern Bridge
Posted November 3, 2011, by Ted_Thoreson (Ted_Thoreson [at] yahoo [dot] com)

October, 2011

Kern Bridge
Posted November 3, 2011, by Ted_Thoreson (Ted_Thoreson [at] yahoo [dot] com)

October, 2011

Kern Bridge
Posted October 24, 2011, by Glenn Hagfors (mnragnar [at] earthlink [dot] net)

Photos of this bridge don't do it justice. One needs to be on the deck of this beautiful structure to appreciate the simple elegance of this design. In it's simplicity, the bridge quickly disappears from one's view and the beauty of the water, trees, wildlife, sky and wind can be fully enjoyed.

This is not a bridge to race across hurriedly in an automobile. This is a bridge for pause and reflection.

It would be a shame to see this bridge reduced to scrap steel if a similar place for quiet meditation could not be found for this quiet, peaceful structure.




Kern Bridge
Posted May 27, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

My position on MOB bridges is that every time one is erected, a feasible opportunity to relocate and preserve a historic truss bridge has been lost. The reality is that there should not be a single abandoned or demolished historic truss bridge under, say, 200 feet in the entire country. Truss bridges of that size can be relocated and restored anywhere a MOB bridge is placed. Based on the number of MOB bridges I have seen, if each opportunity was taken, we would not have any bridges of these sizes sitting abandoned or in dumpsters.

Kern Bridge
Posted May 27, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Link to afforementioned JoCo bridge:


Kern Bridge
Posted May 27, 2011, by Robert Elder (robertelder1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

Interestingly, I have often heard of these MOBs referred to as unique, graceful, beautiful, breathtaking, etc. I don't have a problem with them being installed on a trail, but let's not think they are somehow special. This is not just a phenomenon in Mankato - many of us have seen these things hyped nationwide. In fact, a historic pony truss bridge was recently replaced by a MOB on a hiking trail in Johnson County, KS!

Kern Bridge
Posted May 27, 2011, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

What an epic failure. The perfect place to relocate this bridge only five miles away, and what do they do? They order a MOB instead and then have the audacity to call it a bowstring truss. Why save a nationally significant bridge when you can just order a Walmart bridge instead. What a waste. http://mankatofreepress.com/local/x320356461/Unique-bridge-t...

Kern Bridge
Posted November 7, 2010, by Matthew Lohry

This bridge has been nominated for the list of bridges that should be saved.

Kern Bridge
Posted February 6, 2008, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Links about this bridge are available here:


(This includes a commentary written in 2007 by Jason and Birgit Smith)