Say good-bye to Big Blue. The Big Red Bridge is in Town

Photo taken in September 2010

New Tied Arch Bridge in Hastings, Minnesota to open today. 1951 Steel Arch Bridge to be dismantled.

Travelling to southern Minnesota, I usually pass through the city of Hastings, located on the Mississippi River southeast of Bloomington, the site where the International Airport is located. The city has a 150-plus year history that one should not miss. Many historic buildings, the riverfront walk, and this bridge, Big Blue.

But when I pass through the city this summer, Big Blue will become a memory. The Hastings Steel Arch Bridge, built in 1951 by Sverdrup and Parcel and once touted as the longest bridge of its kind along the Mississippi River is coming down, whereas another bridge, known as Big Red is coming to town.  The longest arch bridge in North America is scheduled to open today, while people in Hastings and many bridge enthusiasts will pay their last respects to Big Blue before demolition work begins today. And while Hastings will still have a record-setting bridge in Big Red, its third crossing behind Big Blue and the Hastings Spiral Bridge (the first bridge in the world to have a loop approach span), there will be many people who will miss this unique vintage bridge, even when Big Red is featured as one of the main pieces of a city going forward. It leads to the question of whether a marker will be placed where the 1951 bridge once stood. Already there is one for the 1895 Spiral Bridge located next to the old bridge in the form of a concrete pier which held one of the steel trestles. And a replica of the bridge using another historic bridge imported from Lac Qui Parle County can be found at the Historic Village south of the city. If a marker is left in its honor, let’s hope that it is something that people can remember the bridge by, whether it is a concrete pier or a piece of steel from the bridge. But I’m sure people will come up with something in Big Blue’s memory.

While many people still remember the Spiral Bridge, I’m hoping they will remember this bridge for its beauty and how it became part of the city’s heritage. And while it was one of the most heavily used bridge in the state, many people like myself enjoyed crossing the bridge and stopping for a half hour to pay homage to this unique artwork. Let’s hope that Big Red will follow in the tracks left behind by the bridge that’s coming down real soon.

The Chronicles wrote an article on the bridge, which can be found here.  Information on the opening of Big Red can be found here. Unlike the Spiral Bridge, which was imploded after Big Blue opened to traffic (as shown in the Chronicles’ link), the Steel Bridge will be dismantled piece, by piece, with plans of completing the demolition process by the end of this year. Photos of Big Blue and Big Red can be found here.