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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Baird–Olson Footbridge
Minnehaha Creek Footbridge Crossing
Edina, MN

Baird–Olson Footbridge

• Structure ID: N/A.
• Location: River Mile 8.6.
• River Elevation: 853 Feet.
• Structure Type: Pedestrian Bridge.
• Construction: Wood Truss.
• Length: 65 Feet (Estimated).
• Width: 4 Feet (Estimated).
• Height Above Water: ??? Feet.
• Date Built: 1955.
The Baird–Olson Footbridge is a very curious structure situated in a very curious location. The bridge consists of a lightly built wood truss flanked by a set of wooden steps. The A-frame is so long that it is not very strong, and there are few crossmembers to brace the truss. The bridge also has no railings, nor does it appear to have much of a foundation. In fact, I was nervous about walking out onto the bridge, and I did not venture more than about 4 feet from the steps due to the structure being so bouncy.

The bridge is located in a spot that is awkward to get to. The south side of the creek is private lots with no public access. The north side of the creek is a private Jewish cemetery. The east side is blocked by a wetlands and a lot that is fenced. The west side has a steep embankment along France Avenue that is fenced in. There are three ways to get to this site. First is by canoe. Second is to ask permission to walk across the cemetery grounds. The third is to duck through the railing of the France Avenue Culvert and walk down the embankment.

The story that I have heard is that Lyman Baird and Evald Olson, two neighbors on the south side of the Minnehaha Creek, built this bridge and the stairway over the France Avenue Culvert in 1954 and 1955. They essentially built their own little private park on both sides of the creek. It doesn't appear that the cemetery owners on the north side of the creek enjoy having this bridge adjoining their property given that there are a series of ‘No Trespassing’ signs posted along the creek, including one located within a few feet of the north end of this bridge. At any rate, it is a very cool little bridge. I suspect, however, that the vast majority of the folks who pass near it on France Avenue have no clue that it exists.

The photo above is a view looking to the southeast from the north bank of the Minnehaha Creek. The photo below is looking due south down the length of the bridge deck.

Baird–Olson Footbridge
Baird–Olson Footbridge
The photo above is a view of the east face of the Baird–Olson Footbridge as seen from the northeast corner of the structure. The photo below is looking upstream towards the east face of the bridge.

Baird–Olson Footbridge
Baird–Olson Footbridge
The photo above is looking downstream towards the west face of the Baird–Olson Footbridge. The photo below is a view from above the France Avenue Culvert, located just west of the footbridge.

Baird–Olson Footbridge

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