The second of the birthday two-pack takes us to Ortonville, Minnesota and this unique Marsh arch bridge. The Old US Hwy. 12 Bridge is a classic example of a rainbow arch bridge made of concrete that was patented by James Marsh in 1914. His company plus the Minneapolis Bridge Company built this bridge in 1920 and used to carry the main highway until the 1990s, when it was bypassed and decommissioned. It was restored to its original glory in 2020 and is now a bike and ped crossing. It’s one of only five historic bridges that are a century old or older left along the Minnesota River. At the time of this pic in 2010 the river had twice as many bridges. The bridge is on the National Register.
Today is my 45th birthday. Being 45 feels like I have one foot in the door that will lead to the golden years, though I have another five years before I get the other foot into that room. However, it’s too early to leave my youthful era of my 30s and 40s. ⏳ It’s a time where people like myself have to make some decisions between continuing what I am doing- “Weiter So” in German and what I should stop doing “Nicht weiter so.” 💫🌱👓
But with my column and this week’s Bridge Pic it definitely belongs to the category of “Weiter So!” ❤️🥇 As a treat, you will be shown a pair of Pic of the Week photos, taking you back to Minnesota, where I was born and raised. It’s a way of saying thanks for your patronage to the Chronicles thus far and to say to you all, more is to come. As your bridge matters, it matters to us, therefore more bridge stories will come both here and in the Chronicles’ social media pages. 📸🎿☃️❤️
The first of the two-pack takes us to the village of Carver. Located SW of the Twin Cities, the town of ca. 150 people is one of the oldest towns in the state’s history. Much of the historic town center is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sadly, I wished the village’s historic bridges that spanned Carver Creek and the Minnesota River would have been included. During my visit on New Year’s Day in 2011, I was able to photograph all six historic bridges. As of today, none of them are remaining.
The bridge in the photo above was one of them and it represented the beginning of the end to Carver’s historic bridges. The Carver Viaduct featured a multiple span steel plate girder bridge with wooden trestles. It spanned the Minnesota River and was built in 1917 by Gustav Widell of Mankato and the American Bridge Company of New York. It had replaced a swing span that had been built in 1889. Its very first crossing was a multiple span wooden through truss bridge built in 1871 and was considered the first crossing over the Minnesota. The bridge used to carry rail traffic as the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad owned this bridge and others along the rail line going mostly along the Minnesota River. Union Pacific bought out the railroad company in the 1990s and this line was abandoned afterwards.
Even though there were talks about reusing parts of the railroad and this bridge as a pedestrian route, that was scrapped when flooding and a pile of debris slammed into the bridge, causing a partial collapse of the trestle. The railroad then contracted a firm during the spring of 2011 to remove the entire structure. This was completed before the spring of 2012. This photo was taken on New Year’s Day 2011 shortly before it’s demise.
A bridge that was once a fixture but is now a memory. Makes a person wonder if we will ever appreciate history or if we just let it vanish before we can ever appreciate it. 🤔📸