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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Bicycle Path Bridge At Visitors Center
Mississippi River Trail Crossing
Itasca State Park, MN

Bicycle Path Bridge At Visitors Center

• Location: River Mile 1346.9
• River Elevation: 1,474 Feet
• County: Clearwater
• Bridge Type: Wood Beam
• Bridge Length: 146 Feet
• Bridge Width: 11 Feet
• Height Above Water: 5 Feet
• Date Built: 1996
This is bridge number four, structure number 5 that spans the Mississippi River. This time, we have a wooden bridge on the bicycle path. If you consider a bicycle to be a vehicle, that makes this the first river crossing down from the headwaters that allows vehicles to cross the great river. This bridge replaced a 1979 bridge, which replaced an earlier 1969 bridge. This bridge is far longer than it needs to be given that the river channel is only about 20 feet wide. In fact, the previous bridges were shorter, with the 1979 bridge being removed in good condition to be reused elsewhere. The reason for the longer bridge is to reduce the valley in the road. The more shallow downhill keeps bicycle speeds down and improves safety.

The river flows about 7 inches down hill for each linear mile of travel. The result is a very slow river. The water runs about 1.3-miles per hour in the headwaters region, picking up about 3 miles per hour downstream of the confluence with Ohio River. The National Park Service states that a rain drop falling into Lake Itasca at the headwaters will take about 90 days to flow past the Head Of Passes and into the Gulf of Mexico. If the river is 2,552 miles long, and the average flow is just over 2 miles per hour, math would suggest that the trip would take about 55 days. As it turns out, there are several large reservoirs on the upper river, and the river flows though some large lakes in northern Minnesota. The remaining 35 days of the trip would be spent in lakes, reservoirs, and dam pools.

The photo above is a view looking across the bridge from the west end. The photo below is a profile view from the west end of the bridge. Note that the bridge is slightly wavy due to the support piers being sunk into the marshy area near the river channel.

Bicycle Path Bridge At Visitors Center

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