Rating:
2 votes

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge

Photos 

Mississippi Headwaters

2552 miles to the Gulf of Mexico

Photo taken by Steve Conro in June 2008

Enlarge

BH Photo #221165

Map 

Street View 

Description 

This is the actual start of the Mississippi River out of Lake Itasca MN

Facts 

Overview
Bridge over Mississippi River on foot path
Location
Clearwater County, Minnesota
Status
Open to pedestrians
Builder
- Civilian Conservation Corps
Design
Rock stepping stones across river
Dimensions
Total length: 44.0 ft.
Approximate latitude, longitude
+47.23978, -95.20762   (decimal degrees)
47°14'23" N, 95°12'27" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/332919/5234174 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Lake Itasca
Elevation
1475 ft. above sea level
Inventory number
BH 50366 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 29, 2018: Updated by Clark Vance: Added category "Civilian Conservation Corps"
  • July 29, 2018: New photos from Roger Deschner
  • June 18, 2018: New Street View added by Dana and Kay Klein
  • November 29, 2011: Added by Steve Conro

Related Bridges 

Sources 

Comments 

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 31, 2018, by Don Morrison

My impression both from being there and from reading about it is that the area was a wetland, and the CCC dug a channel and built up the banks, then built the dam in such a way as to direct the lake outflow into the channel as a way to create a specific place that they could call the Mississippi headwaters, and tourists could visit.

Yes, you can wade across the Mississippi River there, it's knee deep. The dam is low, too much head would probably cause rushing water and unwanted erosion.

Itasca park is a great place to visit. Nature, lots of stone structures, a firetower (not sure if you can still climb it) and you can see Paul Bunyan and Babe at Bemidji (The first city on the Mississippi). 8^)

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 30, 2018, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

I added the source James cited to the sources section.

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 30, 2018, by Royce and Bobette Haley (roycehaley111 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Not much of a dam if the water level is the same on both sides. Just looks like they threw a bunch of rocks in. Oh and the water is only knee deep?

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 29, 2018, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Per the article linked below, this is a CCC dam from the '30s with stepping stones on top to make a pedestrian path.

So basically a dam with pedestrian walkway.Certainly noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 29, 2018, by James Baughn (webmaster [at] bridgehunter [dot] com)
Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 29, 2018, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

I just added that log bridge, with photos. I also linked it to this bridge as being "Downstream".

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 29, 2018, by Don Morrison

Visited this a handful of times over the years; love the Minnesota and Wisconsin north woods.

I think it was actually built as a rock dam, but you could call it a low water crossing or ford, too. Depends on how much water is flowing out of the lake at any time, I guess.

It looks like a guy named Ben Svan waded out into the middle of the Mississippi and took that street view picture. The shadow of a guy holding a camera shows in the water.

Odd that nobody documented the log bridge next to it on BH yet. It's notable. 8^)

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted July 29, 2018, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

I just visited here. Not quite sure how to catagorize this structure. It appears to be part dam and part low-water crossing. The water level in the Mississippi River downstream of this structure is definitely lower than the water level of Lake Itasca, so it is certainly holding the water of Lake Itasca back. You can see that in the photos I just added. We can laugh as intrepid tourists hop barefoot from stone to stone, but this structure is actually fairly significant for controlling the water level of the lake and its flow into the river and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico.

You've got to love the "street view" which is from the river. Apparently Google put its street view camera in a canoe, and went quite a distance downstream.

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

Yep, that's one bridge I wouldn't want to fall off of, especially in January when we're eagle watching!

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Better than falling of say...The Chain-Of-Rocks Bridge, huh Sharon?

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Sharon Spear (sweetsexysharon [at] gmail [dot] com)

When I was a preteen, I "fell in the Mighty Mississippi River" crossing this bridge. It's one of those pleasant and fun memories from childhood.

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted December 3, 2011, by Craig Philpott (cphilpott [at] puc [dot] edu)

Not sure if I should laugh or cry. I think I like it.

Mississippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted December 1, 2011, by Tony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Agreed!...early American ingenuity at it's finest!

Misssissippi River Headwater Rock Bridge
Posted November 30, 2011, by Clark Vance (cvance [at] dogmail [dot] com)

Brilliant addition! Perhaps the oldest usable bridge in the US. I walked it in 1990 and it appears to have been well maintained since then....