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Tuesday, October 21, 2014, 10:10:30 PM CDT
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Spiral Bridge Replica
Replica Mississippi River Crossing
Hastings, MN

Spiral Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 813.9.
• Highway: Former US-61.
• Daily Traffic Count: 0.
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss Through Deck.
• Length: 1,708 Feet.
• Width: 2 Lanes, 18 Feet.
• Navigation Channel Width: 350 Feet (Estimated).
• Height Above Water: 55 Feet.
• Date Built: Opened 1894.
At Hastings, there is a tall bluff on the north side of the Mississippi River. A conventional bridge would have required a long approach on the southern side. The problem is that a long approach would cause traffic to bypass downtown Hastings. Building a spiral solved the problem—it allowed traffic to enter and exit from Main Street downtown Hastings, yet the approach gained the elevation needed to allow the bridge to be level. When built, this was the only spiral wagon and automobile bridge in the US, and only 2 are known to have been built in Europe.

The old bridge served for many years. But due to neglect, the steel rusted, and towards the end, the bridge could only support 4 tons, which prevented truck traffic from crossing the river. The new bridge was built shortly after WWII. The old bridge was given to the City of Hastings, but they could not afford to maintain it. An effort by the citizens also failed to raise the needed money. As a result, the old bridge was removed in the mid-1950s. As soon as it was torn down, the city realized they had made a mistake. The Spiral Bridge was a symbol of the city for decades. Now days, when someone in Hastings wants to tear down a historic building, the cry goes out to remember what happened to the spiral bridge.

Hastings residents Steve and Sylvia Bauer took that cry to heart. They collected historical buildings from around Hastings and founded the Little Log House Pioneer Village. A star attraction in the village is a replica of the Spiral Bridge, complete with a model of the Mississippi River.

Note—the statistics at the top of the page are for the real spiral bridge as it once existed. The replica is built to a smaller scale than the original.

The photo above is a view of the replica bridge looking northeast from the edge of 220th Street. To find the replica Spirla Bridge, head south out of Hastings on US-61, then turn to the east on 220th Street. The replica will be about one-half mile east of highway US-61. The photo below is an end view of the replica Spiral Bridge.


Spiral Bridge
Spiral Bridge
The photo above is the marker erected at the site of the former Spiral Bridge along the waterfront in Hastings. The photo below is the only remaining footing of the Spiral Bridge. This footing is located on the Hastings side of the river in a park that runs along the Mississippi River. One can see a rectangular depression in the top of the capstone where one of the metal legs of the bridge once rested.

Spiral Bridge
Spiral Bridge
These two photos are views looking southwest towards the Spiral Bridge pier. Since the pier runs east and west, the front side is always in a shadow. The photo above is from later afternoon in 2008, while the photo below is from early morning in 2011. The building in the background is the American Legion.

Spiral Bridge
Spiral Bridge
The image above is clipped from a photo of a guide sign located at the Great River Road Visitor Center in nearby Prescott, Wisconsin. It is from a period postcard showing the Spiral Bridge from Hastings looking north across the Mississippi River. The photo below is the remains of the ferry boat landing on the Hastings side of the Mississippi River. The ferry was in use prior to the Spiral Bridge opening in 1894.

Spiral Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2014, all rights reserved.
For further information, contact: john@johnweeks.com