F. W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge
|Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Franklin Avenue Mississippi River Crossing
|• Structure ID:
|River Mile 851.5.
|• River Elevation:
|Hennepin Co 5, Franklin Avenue.
|• Daily Traffic Count:
|• Bridge Type:
|Steel Reinforced Concrete Arch.
|1,054 Feet, 400 Foot Longest Span.
|4 Traffic Lanes.
|• Navigation Channel Width:
|• Height Above Water:
|• Date Built:
|Opened December 7, 1923, Rebuilt 1971—1973.
The F.W. Cappelen Memorial Bridge spans the Mississippi River at Franklin
Avenue. This huge graceful 400 foot long steel reinforced concrete arch
bridge featured the longest such arch of any bridge in the world when
it was built. The bridge was added to the National Register of Historic
Places on November, 28, 1978.
Frederick W. Cappelen is one of the great names from the golden age of
bridge building. As the City Engineer for the City of Minneapolis,
Cappelen designed many of the monumental bridges from the early 20th
century. Cappelen passed away during the construction of the Franklin
Avenue Bridge. The bridge was named in his honor as a tribute.
The Cappelen Bridge saw little maintenance during its early life. At
the time, bridges were considered to be monuments that would last forever.
But that turned out not to be true. By 1970, the Cappelen Bridge was in
such poor shape that it had to be closed down. The bridge was stripped
down to its main arches and rebuilt from 1971 to 1973. When it was
rebuilt, engineers calculated that the original bridge was vastly overbuilt,
and needed only half as many vertical supports. That plan was followed,
and the rebuilt bridge looks much more streamlined as a result. Finally,
in the rebuilding, the horizontal stringers were built wider and a 4-lane
deck with wide sidewalks was installed. With adequate care, the rebuilt
structure could last several hundred years.
The photo above is a view of the Cappelen Bridge as seen from the sidewalk
on the East River Parkway. The riverbank near the bridge has a dense
growth of brush, which makes the bridge structure very hard to see.
The photo above is a view from the sidewalk level at the east end looking
towards the west. The photo below is taken from the West River Parkway,
looking south through one of the spans of the I-94 Dartmouth Bridge. The
Milwaukee Road Short Line Bridge is visible under the main span of the
Cappelen Bridge, and the Lake Street Bridge is barely visible behind the
Short Line Bridge.
The photo above is a view of the main river span looking towards the south
almost directly into the midday sun. While the bright sun reduces the
contrast of the photo, it does make for a nice shadow on the surface of the
great river. The photo below is a view looking through the gap between
the two parallel arches that support the bridge. The light reflecting off
of the surface of the water makes for an interesting color pattern on the
surface of the concrete.
These two photos are views of the main span bridge piers. The photo above is
the eastern main span pier, while the photo below is the western main span
pier. Both photo are looking towards the west from the edge of the river
on the east bank of the Mississippi.
These two photos are slightly different views of the main span arch. A boat
is passing under the arch in each photo, southbound in the photo above, and
northbound in the photo below. Piers from an older bridge are visible on
each side of the navigation channel.
The photo above is the smaller arch that flanks the main span on the east
end of the structure as seen from near the river level. The photo below
is a view of the structure as it is anchored to the river bluffs on the
east side of the Mississippi River.
The photo above is taken from the East River Parkway. It shows just how
dense the brush is, and how hard it is to see the bridge structure. The
photo below is the first of 3 photos showing a typical crossing of the
Cappelen Bridge over the Mississippi River traveling from west to east.
These two photos are the second and third of three views of a typical
bridge crossing traveling west to east. In the photo above, we are just
cresting the hump over the main span. In the photo below, we are nearing
the end of the bridge. The orange cones on the bridge are left over from
the 2008 Twin Cities Marathon, where they were used to block off a traffic
lane to be used by the runners.