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

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 853.8.
• River Elevation: 750 Feet.
• Railroad: Minneapolis Eastern Railroad.
• Daily Traffic Count: 0 (Bridge Is Removed).
• Bridge Type: Iron Trestle.
• Length: ??? Feet.
• Width: 3 Tracks.
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable.
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet.
• Date Built: May 31, 1879.
The most concentrated group of mills in Minneapolis were along either side of present day West River Parkway in the area around Portland Avenue. The Minneapolis & Saint Louis Railway built a railroad track around the south side of the mills. That had the effect of blocking other railroads from gaining access, essentially giving the M&StL a monopoly. Some of the mill owners wanted to break this lock by bringing in other railroads.

The Minneapolis Eastern Railroad was incorporated on June 17, 1878 to put in a line between the mills and the Mississippi River. This was a joint venture between the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway and the Chicago, Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Omaha Railway. The rail line connected near the present day Warehouse District and ran in a narrow band between the Minneapolis & Saint Louis and the Great Northern tracks coming off of the Stone Arch Bridge. From there, the tracks were on an elevated trestle that runs over top of the present day Mill Ruins Park. This bridge was the only way to get the rail cars to the mill, and it was an innovative solution. The result is that any railroad could service the mills by interchanging their rail cars onto either of the two controlling railroads.

The Minneapolis Eastern was not a very large railroad despite the critical role it played in the milling district. As of 1919, it had 1.399 miles of first main line, 0.215 miles of second main line, and 2.137 miles of yard track and sidings. It owned 2 steam switching locomotives. The trestle section in front of the mills was about 1,000 feet long. The trestle was rebuilt in 1890.

The milling industry went into decline in Minneapolis as water power become less critical. The water power system was converted to generate electricity. I haven't determined when the Minneapolis Eastern stopped operations, but I do know that the southern have of the trestle was torn down in 1941, and the northern half was removed in 1962 to make way for the lock and dam project. The area was backfilled to cover up the water power canal and mill tailraces. The trestle legs were simply cut off at ground level, where ever that happened to be after the backfill was hauled in. The ruins were rediscovered when Mill Ruins Park was developed.

The photo above is an overview shot of Mill Ruins Park. The Minneapolis Eastern Trestle spanned this area lengthwise, with the eastern bridge abutment in the foreground and the western bridge abutment being on the stonework next to the Stone Arch Bridge.


Minneapolis Eastern Bridge
The Minneapolis Eastern Trestle was supported on a series of iron towers. The photo above is the remains of the second tower (counting from the west), while the photo below is the third tower. They were simply cut off at ground level when this area was filled in.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
The photo above is another view of the second tower. The photo below is the third tower. These views are looking south through arches in the Stone Arch Bridge. The chute that is filled in with gravel is one of the water outlets from the various mills on the west side of the Mississippi River.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
The photo above is another view of the second tower, with the ruins of the old hydroelectric plant in the background. The photo below is one of the legs of the third tower.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
The photo above is the base of one of the tower legs of the first tower. The photo below is the base of one of the legs of the fourth tower, which still has a piece of the iron tower attached.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
These two photos are views of the west trestle abutment. These piers were built on top of stone that had been excavated as part of building the water power canals in the mill district.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
The photo above is the west bridge abutment, but zoomed out to see other features of the ruins. The base of the first trestle support tower is also visible. The photo below is the east trestle abutment. It has been mostly covered with fill and has not been fully excavated.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
Minneapolis Eastern Trestle
These two photos are additional views of the east trestle abutment. The photo above is looking southeast with the Guthrie Theater in the background. The photo below is looking west with the tailrace canal on the right.

Minneapolis Eastern Trestle

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