Stone Arch Bridge

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Stone Arch Bridge

The Stone Arch Bridge is a former railroad bridge crossing the Mississippi River at Saint Anthony Falls in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Positioned between the 3rd Avenue Bridge and the I-35W Saint Anthony Falls Bridge, the Stone Arch Bridge was built in 1883 by railroad tycoon James J. Hill for his Great Northern Railway, and accessed the former passenger station located about a mile to the west, on the west bank of the river. The structure is now used as a pedestrian/bicycle bridge. It is an Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 as a part of the Saint Anthony Falls Historic District, (District #71000438).


The bridge has been altered somewhat from its original appearance. When the lock and dam was built at Saint Anthony Falls, two of the arches were replaced with a truss so barges could pass through the locks. Later, in 1965, floodwaters undermined three of the piers and caused the bridge to sag. The bridge was repaired by strengthening the piers and reinforcing underneath two of the arches.

When it was in rail service, the bridge carried trains of many railroads to and from the Minneapolis Great Northern Depot, including the Great Northern Railway's Empire Builder. The bridge ceased to be used as a railroad bridge in 1978, and after a period of disuse, was repaired and adapted in the early 1990s to its present use. The bike and walking trails across the bridge are integrated into the city's park and trail system, and form part of the St Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, which includes interpretive plaques describing the history of the area. The most recent renovations—including indirect lighting—were completed in late 2005. The lighting was paid for by private donations.

During the summer months, the Stone Arch Bridge is a focus of numerous festivals in the area of St. Anthony Main and Historic Main Street. The Stone Arch Festival of the Arts occurs Father's Day weekend and features many local artists. Fireworks displays on the Fourth of July and during the Minneapolis Aquatennial in late July also bring crowds; fireworks are launched from nearby Hennepin Island. The bridge offers views of the Minneapolis skyline, Pillsbury "A" Mill, the Mill City Museum, and many other places in the district, and is near both the restaurants of Main St SE and the Guthrie Theater.

Carries: Pedestrian and bicycle lanes; formerly two tracks of the Great Northern Railway

Crosses: Mississippi River

Maintained by: Minneapolis Park Board

Design: 21 stone arch spans, plus one steel-deck truss span

Total length: 2100 feet (640 meters)

Width: 28 feet (8.5 meters)

Longest span: 197.5 feet (60.2 meters) (channel span)

Clearance below: 24.4 feet (7.4 meters)

Information for this article taken from Oldphotos, Wikopedia, Minnesota Historical Society.

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