The Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad Bridge is one of the longest bridges to span the Minnesota River outside the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The first bridge was constructed in 1871 by the railroad company, just a year after it was founded as part of the railroad boom. The structure consisted of wooden trestle spans with a swing span that was a wooden through truss bridge. What was unique about the swing span was the fact that its top chord was curved and not straight like other typical through truss bridges. The swing span was operated by hand, where the attendant would crank the bridge open and shut when the boats passed through the area. The bridge was replaced in the 1890s by an iron structure using the piers of the 1871 bridge. When the current bridge was constructed in 1917, the swing span was replaced with a fixed span and the trestles were scaled back to a point where they only served as approach spans on both shores of the Minnesota River, These were replaced with concrete piers, and therefore, with the exception of the center piers, the concrete piers of the current bridge originate from 1917 whereas the center piers date as far back as the first structure built in 1871. The bridge served rail traffic until March 2007, when floodwaters destroyed a nearby trestle serving the same line as the Minnesota River crossing at Carver and therefore, the line was closed down. It and the bridge itself have not been in service since that time and talks have been in the works to convert the rail line and the bridge into an alternative form of service as Union Pacific, which acquired the Minneapolis and St. Louis Rail line through Chicago and Northwestern (the railroad that merged with UPRR in 1995), wants to abandon the line completely. The problem is there are many parties wanting the line and the bridge for their own purposes. Scott County, which is opposite the river of Carver County and the village of Carver, wants to use the line for light rail service which would run from downtown Minneapolis southwest to the suburbs of Edina, Shakopee, Chaska, and Chanhassen. Carver Co. and the cities of Chaska and Carver want to redevelop the land for other purposes, including a possible bike trail. At one time, UPRR wanted to remove the entire bridge because there were no takers, but as recently as September, 2010, the city of Carver agreed to purchase the bridge from UPRR for $2 million. In mid July 2011, during the time that the rails were being removed, part of the south approach collapsed into a flooding Minnesota River
INTERESTING FACT 1: The bridge was cut into two during the late 1990s with a dike, which was constructed to surround and protect Carver from high water which could potentially damage or destroy property. Much of the business district consists of buildings that were built in the late 1860s and 70s and are now part of the historic district and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Therefore, there are two bridges: the Minnesota River crossing and the Main Street crossing with the trestle between the two being filled up with dirtfill.
INTERESTING FACT 2: The line going across the bridge and through Carver, started in Hopkins (west of Minneapolis) and terminated at Albert Lea, when the line joined the other lines (that are now part of UPRR). Before closing the line down in 2007, it did at one time serve as a sackgasse when the line was discontinued from Hopkins to Carver.
Beginning July 2011, demolition started by Mike's Excavating. The Steel Spans were removed, north approaches removed then piers blown up, then south approaches removed