Sunday, January 16, 2022

1894-1999,2011 Trail/(Rock Island+Vehicles) Bridge over Mississippi River at Inver Grove Heights, MN

1894: (Bridge Hunter; no Historic Bridges; John Weeks III; no B&T) Also called Newport Rail Bridge

Actually, it is now a fishing pier and the termination of a trail.

John A. Weeks III-1894
"The Rock Island Swing Bridge is unique in that it was the last operating toll bridge in the Twin Cities metro area, and it was the last operating swing bridge for automobile traffic. Highway traffic used the bottom deck, while trains used the upper deck. That is a relatively unusual configuration given that trains normally use the lower deck of a shared bridge."
[John has an extensive writeup including some history of the railroad.]

Jack Robertson posted
Rock Island Swing Bridge.
The Rock Island Swing Bridge was a swing bridge that spanned the Mississippi River between Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, and St. Paul Park, Minnesota. It was also known as the Newport Rail Bridge, as it had a spur to Newport, Minnesota, and J.A.R. bridge, after previous owners Joan and Al Roman of Chicago. It was one of the few double-decker bridges on the Mississippi, with the top level formerly used for railroad traffic and the bottom level formerly used as a road crossing. It also was one of a few toll bridges in Minnesota, and one of the last remaining ones. It closed to rail traffic in 1980, and road traffic in 1999, when the toll was 75 cents. After closing, the bridge sat dormant in the open position for 10 years before being partially demolished in 2009. It was converted into a recreational pier, which opened to the public on June 11, 2011.
Crosses Mississippi River
Located Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, St. Paul Park, Minnesota
Maintained by
Washington County, Minnesota, Dakota County, Minnesota

Obviously, only the far two spans are preserved spans. According to comments on BridgeHunter, a span collapsed due to a buckled beam. That would explain why some of the spans were replaced.
Photo by Jason Smith, cropped, via BridgeHunter
[Jason posted a lot of detail photos on BridgeHunter, some of which show pin connections.]

Google Earth, Sep 2008
This is the last image that shows it intact. The western span collapsed just two months after this image was taken.

Ryan Rampersad, Aug 2021

I was surprised how heavy the upper deck supports were until I read that the railroad used the upper deck.
John A. Weeks III-2011

John A. Weeks III-2011
In addition to Jason's photos on BridgeHunter, John also documents that the old trusses were pin connected. John describes several more details on his page.

I'm glad the preservation included some of the "guts" of the old swing bridge. This would be the "final drive." The gear in the foreground was the pinion gear that engaged a rack on the swing truss.

KJ Golstein, Mar 2019

I wonder if you have to pay someone to use it as an "event space."
Usman Suriono, Jun 2019

They have installed quite a bit of interpretive material along the trail leading to the pier.
Ashley Ondrachek, Apr 2021

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