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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Arrowhead Bridge
Historic US-2 Saint Louis River Highway Crossing
Duluth, MN

Arrowhead Bridge

• Structure ID:
• Location: River Mile 8.7
• River Elevation: 602 Feet
• Highway: Former US-2
• Daily Traffic Count: Closed To All Traffic
• Bridge Type: Wooden Trestle With Steel Draw Span
• Bridge Length: 1,700 Feet Plus 2,400 Foot Causeway (Estimated)
??? Foot Longest Span
• Bridge Width: ??? Feet, 2 Lanes
• Navigation Channel Width: ??? Feet
• Height Above Water: 25 Feet (Estimated)
• Date Built: 1927
The Arrowhead Bridge connected the twin port cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin. The Duluth side connected to Lesure Street, while the Superior end connected to Belknap Street. It was built to offer a second harbor crossing at a time when the Interstate bridge was reaching its capacity due to the advent of the automobile. It opened as a toll bridge. The new High Bridge opened in 1961 as a high bridge, so there was pressure to remove the tolls from the Arrowhead Bridge. The tolls were removed in 1963.

The Arrowhead Bridge was built mostly as a wooden trestle, with wooden support piers driven into the muddy bottom of the Saint Louis Bay. The trestles started very near water level, and rose up to about 25 feet above water level to align with the central span. That central span consisted of a draw bridge with two steel spans that would tip up into the air, allowing room for ships to pass through the opening. The draw bridges were very simple in design, consisting of a truss that held the roadway, a pivot point, and a large weight. A small motor and several gears were enough to open and close the spans. The bridge also had a earthen causeway on the Duluth side, which was also the location of the toll booth.

Little of the Arrowhead Bridge remains. The major artifact is the first section of trestle on the Superior side, which is now a fishing pier. A short bit of the pavement still exists on the Duluth side, including the concrete footings for the canopy over the toll booth. A much longer section of the causeway existed on the Duluth side into the mid-1990s, when it was removed to reclaim several acres of wetlands. That section of causeway is now basically a ditch along a gravel loading operation.

The Arrowhead Bridge is named after the Arrowhead Region of Minnesota. The Arrowhead Region refers to the north shore area. It was named via a newspaper contest in the mid-1920s as a way to promote tourism.

Update—the remaining section of the Arrowhead Bridge on the Superior, Wisconsin, side of the bay was removed in 2010. Photos of the new fishing pier are included below.

The image above is a scan of a period postcard showing the arrowhead bridge from the Duluth side of the bay looking towards Superior on the far shore.

Arrowhead Bridge
The photo above was taken from Thompson Hill near the Minnesota Rest Stop on I-35. The vantage point is a parking area along a service road between the rest stop and US-2 that has a fantastic view of the Twin Ports area. The Duluth end of the US-2 causeway would have run from the large gravel pile on the very left of the photo along that pier past the black pile of material. The bridge would have then been a trestle as it crossed the bay. The main channel was crossed with a drawbridge, and then a trestle with a sweeping curve carried the highway back to ground level on the far side of the bay. The remaining section of trestle can be seen on the far side of the bay about one-fourth of the way from the right side of the photo.

The image below was clipped from the Minnesota state DNR aerial photo database. In this 1939 view, Duluth is on the left, and Superior is on the right. The straight bridge is the Northern Pacific (now BNSF) Grassy Point Bridge. The Arrowhead Bridge is near the center of the photo.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
The photo above shows Blatnik Avenue heading west towards the Wisconsin end of the Arrowhead Bridge. Saint Louis Bay is visible to the right, and the remaining section of trestle is visible on the far right. Unlike the Duluth side of the river, Superior is very flat and low. It does not have the bluffs such as those found on the Duluth side of the lake.

The photo below is a view of the remaining section of the Arrowhead Bridge since its conversion into a fishing pier. The bridge made a turn to the right about a third of the way across the bay, so the Minnesota landing would have been near that large black material pile on the far right.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
The photo above is a view of the trestle from the side. This gives a good view of the makeshift nature of the trestle, and how askew the structure has become. This makes it obvious that the old bridge would not have withstood the pounding from traffic very much longer.

Below is a view across Saint Louis Bay looking at the area where the Arrowhead Bridge would have crossed the main navigation channel and would have landed on the Duluth side of the crossing.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
These two photos show the remains of the pavement from the Duluth end of the Arrowhead Bridge. The end of the pavement is where the natural land ended and the bay began. The causeway for the bridge was an earthen fill that extended about 2400 feet. That causeway was dug out and removed in 1996 to restore the natural wetlands. Prior to that time, this was an industrial area for a sand and gravel operation. One could sneak into this area and drive to the end of the causeway. As part of the 1996 project, a trail and parking area was developed for the general public. The fence was installed to prevent people from entering the industrial area.

The photo above is looking down the length of the remaining pavement. The concrete footing inside the fence was the footings for the steel that held up the canopy over the toll booth. This area is now a parking lot for a trail that is being developed along the bayfront area. The original US-2 pavement from the bridge era behind this location was overlaid as part of the development of the park. The photo below is a closer view near the end of the pavement.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
The photo above is looking down the path where the highway causeway was dug out and replaced with wetlands. The photo below is a view looking across the this wetland from a nature trail that runs to the tip of Grassy Point.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
The last remaining section of the Arrowhead Bridge was removed in 2010. These photos are views of the new fishing pier that was built in its place. The photo below is looking across the bay towards Duluth, while the photo below is looking down the length of the new fishing pier. While this project essentially erases the last remains of the Arrowhead Bridge, at least the bridge name will live on with this structure being called the Arrowhead Pier.

Arrowhead Bridge
Arrowhead Bridge
These two photos are views of Arrowhead Pier from early autumn of 2010. The construction project at this park is not yet completed, but the fishing pier appears to be done. The railings and decorative lighting has been completed, and the grass has taken root. The photo above is looking down the length of the fishing pier deck, while the photo below is looking north towards the southwest side of the structure.

Arrowhead Bridge

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