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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge
Mississippi River Trail Crossing
Grand Rapids, MN

Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge

• Location: River Mile 1178.6
• River Elevation: 1,245 Feet
• County: Itasca
• Bridge Type: Steel Truss
• Bridge Length: 250 Feet
• Bridge Width: 12 Feet
• Height Above Water:
• Date Built: Dedicated June 19, 1999
The Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge carries the Mesabi Trail over the Mississippi River on the southeast side of Grand Rapids between the Veteran's Memorial Park and Oakland Park. The trail is used by bicycles and hikers in the summer, and snowmobiles in the winter. It follows an abandoned railroad right-of-way originally built by the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad, which later became the DMIR (Duluth, Mesabi & Iron Range). The Mesabi Trail will be the longest paved trail in Minnesota when it is completed. As of 2007, 97 miles of pavement have been installed.

The bridge was championed by a local group calling themselves the Itasca County Trails Task Force. They worked for 12 years to make this bridge project happen. The chairman of the group was Grand Rapids resident Bill Powers. He passed away just before the bridge was completed, so it is named in his honor. In addition to the Trails Task Force, the half-million dollar price tag was funded by the City of Grand Rapids, MN-DOT, the IRRRB (Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board), and the Blandin Foundation.

When built, this was the longest trail bridge in the state. Since then, the East River Flats Bridge in Minneapolis, Northern Pacific Bridge #9, and the Soo Line Trail Bridge near the Blanchard Dam have opened as trail bridges. The Powers bridge may have been the longest bridge for snowmobiles until the Soo Line Trail Bridge reopened in 2007.

Veterans Park was once the site of a logging operation. Logs would be brought in by railroad from forests in northern Minnesota. They would be unloaded from rail cars and rolled down the riverbank and into the Mississippi River. From here, the logs would float downstream to saw mills and paper mills.

The photo above is a view from the northwest corner of the bridge looking south across the Mississippi River. The photo below is a view from the water level just downstream looking to the southwest.

Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge
Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge
The photo above is a sign announcing the bridge name at the south end of the structure. The photo below is another view from the south end of the bridge looking down the length of the bridge deck.

Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge
Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge
The photo above is a view from Oakland Park on the north side of the river. The photo below is a view from Veterans Memorial Park on the south side of the river.

Bill Powers Memorial Trail Bridge

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