Zumbrota Covered Bridge Collapses

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The Zumbrota Covered Bridge at its current location. Photo taken in October 2005

150-year old covered bridge loses roof in snow collapse. To be rebuilt pending on degree of damage.

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ZUMBROTA, MINNESOTA (USA)- Record-setting February snowfall in the Midwest is starting to take its toll on its infrastructure due to the development of potholes and cracks on the roads. It is also taking its toll on the architecture, for too much snow on the rooves of houses and covered bridges- especially heavy, thick snow- can cause a roof to cave in.

Ask the people in the town of Zumbrota, located between Cannon Falls and Rochester in Goodhue County in southeastern Minnesota. Their prized centerpiece of the community of over 500 inhabitants has an uncertain future as the Zumbrota Covered Bridge partially collapsed over the weekend.

Built in 1869, the covered bridge is a Smith through truss, which is similar to a Lattice truss with diagonal beams criss-crossing each other, except its outer diagonal beams represent an end-post angled at 30°. The bridge was rehabilitated in 1932, 1950 and again in 1997, when the 120-foot long structure was moved 100 yards downstream to a park, which is situated just off Hwy. 58. It had previously crossed at Main Street. The park covers much of the eastern shore of the North Branch Zumbro River and provides people with some recreational possibilities. The structure has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975. Even though there had been another covered bridge of its kind built for a railroad north of Zumbrota, this covered bridge is the last one in service in the state of Minnesota.

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The Covered Bridge after the roof collapse. Photo taken by Mayor Bradley Drenckhahn on 24 February

As you can see in the Picture above, presented by mayor Bradley Drenckhahn, this was not what people had expected from the bridge. This was taken on the 24th, just after the roof of the covered bridge caved in, which had happened sometime overnight. Fortunately, no one was injured.

It is unclear if the center pier, built the same year the covered bridge was relocated, was affected by the collapse. The degree of the collapse will be inspected by transportation officials. The fortunate part is that the bridge is insured and town officials will rebuild the bridge once the snow has melted. The question is: just the roof or the whole structure? This is important for it could affect the upcoming events commemorating the covered bridge’s 150th birthday. According to its website, the covered bridge festival will take place on June 15th and 16th, whereas the birthday celebrations will be August 3rd and 4th. Both will take place at the park. How the collapse and the subsequent reconstruction will affect the festivities remain unknown.

A link to the covered bridge website is available and can be clicked here. The Chronicles will keep you posted on the latest on this bridge.

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