2 votes

Bearskin River Bridge


Oblique of south railing

Photo taken by Matthew Lohry in June 2010


BH Photo #168709


Street View 


This bridge was historically significant for being one of the first two bridges in St. Louis County to utilize the 36" rolled steel beam for the superstructure, allowing spans up to 75 feet without intermediate piers. The other example was located on CR22 and crossed the Rice River. It was replaced in 2000. This bridge was unaltered and was in excellent condition with only minor surface rust on the stringers and the railing pipes, and no spalling on the railing posts or abutments. The railings had not even been covered with Armco railings, allowing the bridge to retain its original appearance as seen from the roadway. Despite the bridge's high sufficiency rating on this relatively lightly travelled road, the bridge was replaced in 2017.


Lost steel stringer bridge over Bearskin River on Csah 5
St. Louis County, Minnesota
Replaced by a new bridge
Built 1934; replaced 2017
- St. Louis County Hwy. Dept.
Steel stringer
Length of largest span: 68.9 ft.
Total length: 71.9 ft.
Deck width: 23.0 ft.
Eligible for the National Register of Historic Places
Approximate latitude, longitude
+47.82194, -93.05083   (decimal degrees)
47°49'19" N, 93°03'03" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/496195/5296511 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Bear River
Average daily traffic (as of 2008)
Inventory numbers
MN 7645 (Minnesota bridge number)
BH 44474 (Bridgehunter.com ID)
Inspection report (as of June 2016)
Overall condition: Poor
Superstructure condition rating: Poor (4 out of 9)
Substructure condition rating: Fair (5 out of 9)
Deck condition rating: Serious (3 out of 9)
Sufficiency rating: 24.7 (out of 100)
View more at BridgeReports.com

Update Log 

  • April 14, 2020: Updated by Matt Lohry: Bridge was replaced in 2017.
  • June 28, 2010: Updated by Matthew Lohry: Updated description and added photos
  • March 17, 2010: Added by Matthew Lohry


  • Matt Lohry


Bearskin River Bridge
Posted May 11, 2017, by Butch Viitala (viiala [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The demolition of the bridge will begin on May 22nd. This past week the phone company laid a temporary cable from East to West through the woods over the river. Lake Country Power had crews move two power poles installing temporary poles that will remain until the bridge work is completed. The detour signs are standing by ready to barricade the highway from CR22 with the detour routes marked.

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted April 5, 2017, by Butch Viitala (viitala [at] hotmail [dot] com)

The rights of way on both sides of the river were cleared in February. Lake Country Power staked the right of way for the power line and where one power pole near the river will be moved toward the woods line about 25 -30 feet. Bridge removal and new construction will begin in May if not before. Culvert replacement may precede the bridge work to the east.

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted December 19, 2016, by Anonymous

By pass make great Canoe put in, fishing platform and picnic area. Lack of maintenance does not indicate replacement, indicates need for maintenance...

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted December 19, 2016, by Butch Viitala (viitala [at] hotmail [dot] com)

I realize there is historic sensitivity involved with this old bridge. However Highway 5 itself is in poor driving condition and has been for many years. People that wish to visit the McCarthy State Park coming in from the N.W. on Highway 1 usually bypass Highway 5 because it is so rough. There comes a time when replacement is necessary. At today's prices one can only imagine how much it would cost to replace this bridge 10 years from now, along with upgrading the highway itself. There are issues with the culverts that direct water drainage sometimes with flows crossing from one side of the highway to the other a few times if not several times before drainage is guided well. Culvert replacement has been undertaken this past summer and will continue. There are many culverts along the approximate 8 mile stretch between CR22 and Hwy 1 in need of replacement or relocation. This is a monumental project. But it is clear that it requires attention now.

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted August 23, 2016, by Matt Lohry

I'm from up there as well; this is very similar to what they did about 25 years ago a few miles north of there, where the Sturgeon River passes under State Hwy. 1...there was a small, 2-span Warren pony truss bridge there, and they replaced it with a very long UCEB, presumably to control some flooding issues there.

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted August 23, 2016, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

Interesting... thats a rather elaborate project to replace a 70 foot span on a quiet county-owned road...

Bearskin River Bridge
Posted August 23, 2016, by Butch Viitala (viitala [at] hotmail [dot] com)

A new bridge is scheduled for 2017-2018. The new bridge will be about 400 + feet long. Entire bridge construction with approaches will be about 1,050 feet. I own the land on the East side of the river, North plat. Construction is estimated to be 2 years. Highway 5 will be resurfaced with parts reconstructed. I signed the easements in May 2016. Right of way on each side of the bridge is 50 feet permanent, and another 50 feet temporary. Detoured traffic will be routed on the Airport Road to the West of the river. The bridge will be elevated only a few feet. The rights of way are staked.