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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Minneapolis Western Bridge Ruins
Historic Minneapolis Western Mississippi River Crossing
Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis Western Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 853.3.
• River Elevation: 750 Feet.
• Railroad: Minneapolis Western Railway Company.
• Daily Traffic Count: 0 (Bridge Is Removed).
• Bridge Type: Iron Deck Truss.
• Length: 950 Feet (Estimated).
• Width: 1 Track.
• Navigation Channel Width: 75 Feet (Estimated).
• Height Above Water: 58 Feet (Estimated).
• Date Built: 1891, Opened January 1, 1892.
The Minneapolis Western Railway Company was established on October 29, 1884, to operate a railroad to connect various mills and other industries just below Saint Anthony Falls in the city of Minneapolis. The company came under the control of the Great Northern Railroad in 1890. They constructed a railroad bridge over the Mississippi River below the Lower Bridge and above the 10th Avenue Bridge during 1891, placing the bridge and associated track in operation on January 1, 1892.

The Minneapolis Western built a total of 6.7 miles of track. They operated a second bridge on the south side of the river passing over the tailrace canal near the site of the present day Mill Ruins Park. The exact location is the wood plank section of West River Parkway near Portland Avenue South. This canal bridge served the Minneapolis Mill Company. The bridge was built so light that it could not support the weight of locomotives. As a result, railroad cars were moved over this bridge using cables.

The Great Northern Railroad fully absorbed the Minneapolis Western in 1928. The bridge over the Mississippi River became obsolete by World War 2, and it was demolished in 1952. The only remaining feature of this bridge is the abutment on the north side of the river. The abutment took a pounding in 2007 when the I-35W Bridge collapsed directly onto its stonework. The abutment was later included in a historical survey of the area as part of the construction of the new I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, with the abutment being carefully preserved during that massive construction project.

The photo above is the bridge abutment for the Minneapolis Western Bridge located on the north side of the Mississippi River. This structure is located directly under the new I-35W Bridge. The bridge started parallel to the bluff, then curved 45 degrees to cross the Mississippi River at an angle. The photo below includes a view of the top of the bridge abutment. The bridge left the pier towards the trees located just beyond the end of the abutment, then it curved to the southwest passing just beyond the north end of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam, which is visible in the gap between the bridge piers on the left side of the photo.


Minneapolis Western Bridge
Minneapolis Western Bridge
The image above is a period postcard showing the Minneapolis Western Bridge in the foreground, the Lower Bridge behind it, and the Stone Arch Bridge in the background. Note that the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam did not exist, but the lower power house sits right behind the bridge. The photo below is from the US Army Corps of Engineers showing the proposed location of the Lower Saint Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. The Minneapolis Western Bridge passed between the lower dam and the lower falls power house.

Minneapolis Western Bridge
Minneapolis Western Bridge
These two photos are views from the river flats below the new I-35W Bridge. The Minneapolis Western Bridge abutment is located along the stone wall just behind the four white piers of the I-35W structure. The area adjacent to the bridge is the site of the former Tandem Accelerator Lab, which was torn down after the bridge collapse.

Minneapolis Western Bridge

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