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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Saint Louis River Pedestrian Crossing
Duluth, MN

Grassy Point Trail Bridge

• Structure ID: N/A
• Location: River Mile 8.6
• River Elevation: 602 Feet
• Trail: Grassy Point Trail
• Bridge Type: Steel Pony Truss
• Bridge Length: 65 Feet (Estimated), 65 Foot Longest Span (Estimated)
• Bridge Width: 6 Feet (Estimated)
• Navigation Channel Width: Non-Navigable
• Height Above Water: 4 Feet (Estimated)
• Date Built: 1996
In geologic terms, Grassy Point is a relatively new feature. Lake Superior was once much deeper, but it drained at the end of the Ice Age about 8,000 years ago. The area near Grassy Point was once the western end of the lake. The land in this area was part of a sandbar that formed where the Saint Louis River flowed into the lake. A series of sandbars formed further out into the, such as the one under the Blatnik Bridge and Park Point. This allowed a larger bay to form and partly fill in with sediment, leaving a large freshwater estuary.

The water at Grassy Point is interesting because it is the point where river and lake water mix. These two waters are chemically distinct. The action of the lake and bay seiches (sloshing of water across the lake and across the bay) alternately raise and lower the water levels every few hours, acting much line shorter time period tides. These fluctuations cause changes in temperature, pH level, and oxygen levels.

Grassy Point was used by several sawmills during the late 1800s. The fires of 1918 burned the mills and ended commercial activity on Grassy Point. The debris and waste products from the mills remained, slowly sinking into the wetlands. The Arrowhead Bridge was built in 1927. The bridge had a long causeway through Grassy Point. Industrial waste and runoff from cars further added to the pollution problem.

The present day changes to Grassy Point began in 1982 when the Arrowhead Bridge was closed. The bridge structure was removed shortly after the Bong Bridge opened. Later, in the early 1990s, the causeway was mostly removed. A clean-up effort was funded to clean up the mess from the mills. Over 11,000 tons of sawmill waste was pulled out of the water. A number of invasive plan species were removed, and native plants were reintroduced. Finally, 1,100 feet of trail, a bridge, and two observation decks were installed in 1996. The result is an area when you can walk out of view of much of the industrialization of the Twin Ports Harbor and see Saint Louis Bay as it must have looked hundreds of years ago before the arrival of Europeans.

The photo above is looking south towards the northwest face of the Grassy Point Trail Bridge. This photo was taken on a warm muggy and foggy morning in the summer of 2010. The dew brings out the color and detail in the plants, but the fog hides the tall bluffs that normally would be visible in the background.


Grassy Point Trail Bridge
These two photos are views walking down the trail towards the bridge. The photo above is the looking northeast along the northwest face of the bridge, while the photo below is the catwalk approaching the southwest end of the bridge.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
The photo above is the catwalk at the northeast end of the bridge leading to the observation deck. The photo below is a view looking east towards the observation deck from across the channel of Keene Creek.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
The photo above is looking south towards the northwest face of the bridge from the observation deck. The photo below is another view looking down the northwest face of the bridge while heading back to the parking area.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
These two photos are views crossing southbound across the bridge while walking back to the parking area. The photo above is entering the northeast end of the bridge, while the photo below is existing the southwest end of the structure.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
The photo above is the bridge serial number plate. The photo below is a detail view of the gap between the northeast end of the bridge and the catwalk leading to the observation deck. While it looks like the catwalk is going to fall off of the pier, it is actually supported by a steel bracket that is not readily visible. I did, however, stop and look closely before I walked across the gap given that I am not able to swim.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge
Grassy Point Trail Bridge
A branch in the grassy point trail crosses a section of plastic walkway mat that is laid across a swampy area, which leads to this floating observation deck. The photo below is the sign located at the parking area. The parking area is located at the end of Lesure Street, which once carried US-2 to the north end of the Arrowhead Bridge to Superior.

Grassy Point Trail Bridge

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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