3 votes

Phalen Park Bridge


Oblique view of entire bridge

Photo taken by Matthew Lohry in April 2010


BH Photo #162281



This bridge was built in 1906 and underwent a major rehabilitation and relocation in 1992. I'm uncertain of this bridge's original location, but judging by the concrete piers and location of the bridge, it was not here. This bridge is a bedstead Pratt pony truss, and the only bedstead truss that I am aware of in the state (there could certainly be more that I don't know about). It is a strikingly beautiful and unique bridge type, and it is good to see that people care enough about it to allow it to live on in a protected location such as Phalen Park. The bridge had some severe and insensitive modfications done to it during its 1992 rehabilitation, though. Most of the rivets on the horizontal portion of the lower chord were replaced by bolts, which look more disorganized and "chaotic" than rivets. Also, I am thinking that the bridge was widened because it is incredibly wide for a truss bridge with a 1906 build date. The floor beams look like modern double-flange beams rather than what would be typical of this era. The support bents, however, have lots of V-lacing and are unmodified, but they could have been manufactured this way to match the flavor of the original bridge. Steel angle plates are welded in random locations to hold truss members that were most likely not in these locations to begin with. I'm referring to the members between the lower chord and the bedstead verticals, just above the curved connections. The bridge retains one original railing, but the other was lost in favor of an ugly, green lattice replacement. The steel stringer approach spans were also added and obviously are not part of the original configuration. Regardless of these modifications, the bridge retains its beautiful and unique appearance, and is an asset and a great feature that helps to enhance the overall beauty of Phalen Park.


Bedstead Pratt pony truss bridge over South Channel on a pedestrian trail in St. Paul
Maplewood, Ramsey County, Minnesota
Open to pedestrians only
Built 1906
- Cambria Steel Co. of Johnstown, Pennsylvania (Iron/Steel Manufacturer)
- St. Paul Foundry Co. of St. Paul, Minnesota
Pony truss
Length of largest span: 60.0 ft.
Total length: 92.5 ft.
Deck width: 28.9 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+44.99047, -93.05775   (decimal degrees)
44°59'26" N, 93°03'28" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/495447/4981893 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Saint Paul East
Inventory numbers
MN L8789 (Minnesota bridge number)
BH 20560 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • November 19, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder
  • June 6, 2013: Updated by Nathan Holth: Fixed GPS.
  • April 12, 2010: Updated by Matthew Lohry: Added description and photos, updated truss type



Phalen Park Bridge
Posted June 30, 2010, by Matthew Lohry (matthewlohry [at] yahoo [dot] com)

It appears, by an article that I found and placed in the links box, that this was indeed the original location for this bridge! The article dates to 1991, one year before its rehabilitation, and the bridge shown in the photo included in the article looks very much like the bridge that graces the park today, including the welded modifications. The modifications that I mentioned were done during the rehabilitation in 1992, including the steel stringer approaches, were either done at some time in the previous past, or were indeed part of the original structure. At this point, it looks like the 1992 rehabilitation preserved the bridge exactly as it was prior. The bridge narrowly escaped demolition and was rehabilitated and preserved in its original location. I guess I'm not surprised, as this is not the only historic bridge located within this park.

Phalen Park Bridge
Posted April 13, 2010, by Matthew Lohry

Nathan, intriguing thoughts on this bridge's features. I am certainly going to dig deeper on the history of this rare and amazing treasure, and see if I can't find at least where the bridge's original location was. I will post whatever I can find.

Phalen Park Bridge
Posted April 13, 2010, by Anthony Dillon (spansaver [at] hotmail [dot] com)

Even for those who don't fancy Bedsteads.......you have to admire this one. Indiana Bridge Company built some patented spans they referred to as Warren Cantilever Bedstead Ponies that had a unique look. Unfortunately, none of them remain.

Phalen Park Bridge
Posted April 12, 2010, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Good writeup and review for this bridge! This is an amazing and unusual bridge. The fact that the steel bents appear unaltered leads me to think the bridge was perhaps not widened, otherwise they would have had to cut the bents in half and add material. Maybe the bridge was originally in an urban location which would account for its width.

The added large panel lattice railings look riveted, unless I am missing something. I wonder if they were salvaged from some other bridge. Either way, I agree that they overwhelm the small bedstead trusses. Plus, they are painted a different color (but the original railings are not) which looks odd.