9 votes

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge


Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #114812

Street Views 


The bridge spans the Duluth Ship Canal, which was dug in 1870 through the sand bar that routed the Saint Louise River further south and east before opening into the lake. The sand spit, commonly called "Park Point" by locals, named Minnesota Point, allowed ships to avoid Superior WI while still getting from the river to Lake Superior. This also turned the peninsula into an island. Ferries worked - but not during icy winter.

In 1892, John Low Waddell designed a high lifting vertical lift bridge. The War department did not approve so Duluth did not get to build it. But the design was modified and built in Chicago as the South Halsted Street Bridge. Thomas McGilvray, a city engineer, drew the plans for the structure that was built, apparently inspired by a similar traveler type bridge, the Rouen Transporter Bridge across the Seine.

By the late 1920, the bridge was not keeping up with demand. The upgrade began in 1929, adding lifting span with a automotive deck. The fix span across the top had to be raised to allow room for the lifted span, so the towers straight vertical sections were added. In addition, significant structure was added within the towers to accommodate the counterweights and lifting mechanism. The rebuilt bridge first lifted for a vessel 1930 Mar 29.


Vertical-lift through truss bridge over the Duluth Ship Canal on Lake Avenue in Duluth
Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota
Open to traffic
Opened as a transporter bridge in 1905; reconstructed as a vertical-lift bridge in 1930; rehabilitated 1986, 1999, 2007, 2009
- Claude Allen Porter Turner of Lincoln, Rhode Island
- Harrington, Howard & Ash of Kansas City, Kansas & New York, New York (Lift Bridge Designer)
- Thomas McGilvray of Duluth, Minnesota
- Duluth Street Railway (DSR)
- Duluth-Superior Transit Co. (DST)
- Streetcar
Warren through truss
Length of largest span: 385.8 ft.
Total length: 501.7 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.1 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 22, 1973
Also called
Duluth Aerial Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+46.77903, -92.09292   (decimal degrees)
46°46'45" N, 92°05'35" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/569245/5181008 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Average daily traffic (as of 2017)
Inventory numbers
MN L6116 (Minnesota bridge number)
NRHP 73002174 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 36674 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of October 2018)
Overall condition: Fair
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 49.5 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • July 15, 2022: New photo from Julian Johnson
  • November 11, 2021: New photos from Dave King
  • April 7, 2021: New photo from John Christeson
  • October 26, 2020: New photos from Dave King
  • September 27, 2020: New photo from Ed Hollowell
  • April 1, 2020: New photo from Tony Dillon
  • October 16, 2019: New photos from Ben Tate
  • November 9, 2018: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • October 22, 2018: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • September 28, 2018: New photos from Jann Mayer
  • April 14, 2018: New photos from Richard Doody
  • January 9, 2018: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • December 24, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • August 13, 2017: Updated by Fmiser: Added more info about the earlier transporter bridge
  • May 22, 2017: New photo from Dana and Kay Klein
  • May 21, 2015: Updated by Luke: Added categories "Duluth- Superior Transit Co.", "Streetcar", "Railroad", "rail-and-road"
  • February 4, 2015: Photo imported by Dave King
  • June 26, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Transporter Bridge"
  • June 25, 2014: New Street View added by Ralph Demars
  • December 6, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • July 1, 2013: New photos from Steve Conro
  • November 22, 2011: New photo from Steve Conro
  • November 24, 2009: New photos from Jason Smith
  • June 6, 2008: New photos from Historic American Engineering Record



Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Posted December 4, 2019, by Douglas Butler

On the 3rd of December yesterday the lift bridge is out of service because of the ice build up!!!

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Posted June 26, 2014, by Anonymous

She looks all right. I'd walk with her. Also a couple cuties following her!

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Posted March 8, 2011, by Gene Smania

Photos taken September 2000. Nice maritime museum at the right side of the photo in former Coast Guard or Corps of Engineers HQ building.

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Posted November 29, 2008, by Jolene V (joakabridgefreak [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I once got stuck on this bridge as it was lifting and had to wait for it to lower as the ship passed. very interesting ride! I was walking and was in the middle as the lift alarm went off so I had to wait.