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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
Minnehaha Creek Street Crossing
Saint Louis Park, MN

Excelsior Boulevard Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 90455.
• Location: River Mile 13.0.
• River Elevation: 890 Feet.
• Structure Type: Street Bridge.
• Construction: Concrete Arch.
• Length: 22 Feet.
• Width: 56 Feet (Estimated).
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet.
• Date Built: 1874, Reconstructed 1940.
Excelsior Boulevard dates back to the earliest days of the State of Minnesota. The road got its start as a trail used by soldiers. It is reported that soldiers used this road to get from hunting areas west of the twin cities to the bars located near Lake Calhoun. The road later became Territorial Road #3, Excelsior Road, Excelsior Street, Excelsior Avenue, County Road #3, and was marked as US-169 and as US-212 during the 1950s and 1960s. When highway MN-7 was built, it was known as the new Excelsior Road, so the current day Excelsior Boulevard was referred to as Old Excelsior Boulevard. Once MN-7 was given its numerical designation in 1935, Old Excelsior Boulevard was officially named Excelsior Boulevard.

At one time, Excelsior Boulevard through Saint Louis Park was known as Gasoline Alley. There were no less than 40 gas stations located in the Park. Those stations are largely gone today, and those that do survive were rebuilt after environmental laws were enacted in the 1980s. Excelsior Boulevard is also the site of one of the earlier shopping centers in the Midwest. The Miracle Mile opened in 1951 just east of highway MN-100. Excelsior Boulevard is getting a make-over once again in 2010 with bridge replacements, better traffic flow, and a streetscape that will include sidewalks on both sides of the highway. The project is being done in three large phases, with the first part completed in the mid-2000s, and the third part planned for 2015.

The Excelsior Boulevard Bridge over the Minnehaha Creek is listed as being built in 1874, and being reconstructed in 1940. The 1874 date would make it the oldest surviving bridge over the creek. The 1874 date is when the Globe Mill was built on the lot northwest of the bridge. A long earthen dam was built to create a mill pond to power the mill. Excelsior Road was routed over the top of this dam, with the 1874 era bridge crossing the outflow gate of the dam. The current bridge that we see in these 2010 photos was built in 1940. I don't know how much of the 1874 structure was used. I suspect that very little of that early structure exists. The 1940 project built a much wider causeway over the mill dam, extended the bridge wider in both directions, and built the end caps, wing walls, and railings.

The 1940 era structure is just wide enough to handle four lanes of highway traffic. There is no room for sidewalks. As a result, in 1980, a prefabricated pedestrian footbridge was installed just north of the street bridge. Both the street bridge and the footbridge will be removed in the summer of 2010 for replacement. The new bridge will also feature an arch over the creek channel, but the deck will be wider and include sidewalks on both sides of the traffic lanes.

The photo above is looking northwest across the bridge deck. Louisiana Avenue is the next stoplight to the west. The photo below is a similar view looking northwest across the bridge deck from the southeast corner of the bridge.


Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
These two photos are views of the downstream south face of the Excelsior Boulevard Bridge. The photo above is looking west towards the bridge arch looking through the fence on the east bank of the creek. The photo below is looking west towards the bridge arch looking over the top of the fence on the west bank of the creek.

Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
The photo above is looking west down the length of the bridge deck from the bus stop located just east of the Minnehaha Creek. The photo below is looking east down the length of the bridge deck, looking into the bright morning sun.

Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
Excelsior Boulevard Bridge
The photo above is looking down at the north face of the bridge arch by looking between the street bridge and the pedestrian footbridge. The blue street sign is to aid canoeists. The photo below is looking downstream towards the north face of the Excelsior Boulevard Bridge from the Methodist Hospital Boardwalk.

Excelsior Boulevard Bridge

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