By the mid-1990s, the Jackpot Junction Casino had become a major
enterprise, attracting gaming patrons from all over southern Minnesota
as well as the Twin Cities. The roads near Morton were ill-suited to
handle this increase in traffic. MN-DOT decided to fix the situation
by rebuilding and widening US-71 past Morton, across the
Minnesota River, and towards Redwood Falls. Completed in 1997, this
bypass resulted in two new Minnesota River bridges, and the removal
of one of the old river bridges.
This through truss bridge once carried US-71 and MN-19 across a back-
channel of the Minnesota River known as Sulphur Lake. The bridge serves
no real need today, but there was also no need to remove it since it was
basically sound and not in the way. It is still open to traffic, as is
much of the old US-71 pavement in the area. It is hoped that a regional
trail will be established in this area at some point in the future.
Such a trail would require a fairly large trail bridge to be built across
the main channel of the Minnesota River, something that will have to wait
until the state is a little more flush with cash.
The photo above is a view of the upstream west side of the Old US-71 Bridge
as seen from the north bank of Sulphur Lake. The new US-71 backchannel
bridge is located behind the truss bridge.
The photo above is a view of the downstream face of the Old US-71 Bridge as
seen from the north bank of the river channel. The photo below is a similar
view from the south bank of the river channel. The rip-rap along the
riverbank keeps the brush in check.
The photo above is looking southwest through the truss structure down the
path of old highway US-71. The photo below is a similar view looking
northeast through the truss structure down the path of old highway US-71.
The vehicle in the photo is parked, so there was no danger of the photographer
being run down.
The photo above is looking north from the southwest corner of the Old US-71
Bridge. The photo below is the bridge plate.