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Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

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Photos 

Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

Map 

Street Views 

Description 

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.

Facts 

Overview
Vertical-lift through truss bridge over the Duluth Ship Canal on Lake Avenue in Duluth
Location
Duluth, St. Louis County, Minnesota
Status
Open to traffic
History
Opened as a transporter bridge in 1905; reconstructed as a vertical-lift bridge in 1930; rehabilitated 1986, 1999, 2007, 2009
Builders
- 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
Railroads
- Duluth Street Railway (DSR)
- Duluth-Superior Transit Co. (DST)
- Streetcar
Design
Warren through truss
Dimensions
Length of largest span: 385.8 ft.
Total length: 501.7 ft.
Deck width: 24.0 ft.
Vertical clearance above deck: 18.1 ft.
Recognition
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:
Duluth
Inventory numbers
MN L6116 (Minnesota bridge number)
NRHP 73002174 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 36674 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection (as of 11/2015)
Deck condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Superstructure condition rating: Satisfactory (6 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Good (7 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 50.5 (out of 100)
Average daily traffic (as of 2008)
7,093

Update Log 

  • 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

Sources 

  • Historic American Engineering Record
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Steve Conro - sconro [at] yahoo [dot] com
  • Douglas Butler
  • Luke
  • Zenith City - Image
  • Dana and Kay Klein
  • Fmiser - fmiser [at] gmail [dot] com

Comments 

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.

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.