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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Pike Island Bridge
Fort Snelling Park Minnesota River Channel Crossing
Minneapolis, MN

Pike Island Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 1.5.
• River Elevation: 686 Feet.
• Structure Type: Pedestrian Foot Bridge.
• Bridge Type: Concrete Girder.
• Length: 125 Feet (Estimated).
• Width: 12 Feet (Estimated).
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: 14 Feet (Estimated).
• Date Built: ???.
The Pike Island Bridge crosses the west channel of the Minnesota River connecting the river flats area near the visitor center to Pike Island at Fort Snelling State Park. The west channel is currently a cut-off between the main channel of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River. It is considered to be non-navigable, but jet skies and small boats can use this waterway. Historically, this was the main channel of the river prior to the US Army Corps of Engineers moving the main river channel to its current location. The eastern tip of Pike Island is the confluence point of the current main channel of the Minnesota River and the Mississippi River.

The island is named after Zebulon Pike, of Pike's Peak fame. As an Army Lieutenant, Pike lead an expedition in 1805 to find the headwaters of the Mississippi River. As part of the expedition, Pike purchased land in the vicinity of Fort Snelling on behalf of the US Government to be used as a future military post. Fort Snelling was later established in 1819 after Pike had moved on to other adventures.

A dark chapter in Minnesota history occurred on Pike Island during the Civil War. A Native American uprising in southern Minnesota was put down by the military in 1862. After the war, approximately 1600 women, children, and elderly people were forced into a concentration camp on Pike Island during the winter of 1862 and 1863. Disease spread through the camp, with hundreds of people dying during the winter. Later, these people were forcibly relocated to the Dakota Terriroty. A drought caused further hardship before the surviving Native people moved to Nebraska.

The photo above is a close view of the south face of the bridge as seen from Pike Island.


Pike Island Bridge
The photo above is the west end of the structure, with Pike Island being located on the far side of the river channel. The photo below is a profile view of the south face of the bridge.

Pike Island Bridge
Pike Island Bridge
The photo above is a view looking east down the length of the bridge deck from mid-span. The photo below is a similar view from almost the exact same location, but taken three years later in the spring of 2011.

Pike Island Bridge
Pike Island Bridge
The photo above is looking east across the west channel of the Minnesota River towards the west end of the Pike Island Bridge. This photo was taken during the tail end of the spring flood of 2011. The flood water receded from this trail only a few days before my visit in late May. The photo below is looking east across the river channel along the south face of the bridge. The still water reflects the bridge and scenery like a mirror.

Pike Island Bridge
Pike Island Bridge
These two photos were taken from Pike Island looking towards the south face of the bridge. The photo above is a profile view, while the photo below was taken from near the southeast corner of the structure.

Pike Island Bridge
Pike Island Bridge
The photo above is a view looking east along the trail leading to the Pike Island Bridge. The photo below is a view looking northeast across the Mississippi River from the trail leading to the eastern tip of Pike Island where the main channel of the Minnesota River flows into the mighty Mississippi.

Pike Island Bridge

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