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John A. Weeks III
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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Steel Bridge
Minnehaha Creek Street Crossing
Minneapolis, MN

Steel Bridge

• Structure ID: NBI 5756.
• Location: 0.3 Miles Downstream Of Falls.
• River Elevation: 710 Feet.
• Structure Type: Street Bridge.
• Construction: Steel Arch Deck.
• Length: 627 Feet, 288 Foot Longest Span.
• Width: 18 Feet, 1 Lane.
• Height Above Water: 99 Feet.
• Date Built: 1908.
This long century old steel truss bridge crosses the Lower Glen of Minnehaha Park to allow traffic to access to the Minnesota Veterans Home. This bridge is often referred to as the MN Veterans Home Bridge, Old Soldiers Home Bridge, or the Soldiers Home Bridge, but it is officially known as the Steel Bridge. The name is due to the steel construction of the large arch truss, but it came into use to distinguish the new bridge from the older wooden bridge at this location when it was built back in 1908.

The Steel Bridge is unlike any other bridge over the Minnehaha Creek. It has a large and complex steel truss structure, and it is over 600 feet long. The only other bridge of this magnitude is the Nicollet Avenue bridge, which over 830 feet, long, but nowhere near as tall as the Steel Bridge.

The Steel Bridge lived much of its life during an era when bridge maintenance was not a serious concern. By the time that bridge maintenance was recognized as an issue following the 1967 collapse of the Silver Bridge over the Ohio River, the Steel Bridge was already well on its way to deterioration. The bridge was finally deemed to be unsafe and was closed to vehicle traffic in 1987. It remained open as a pedestrian bridge for another decade. The structure was repaired and refurbished in the late 1990s, perhaps 1998 and 1999. It is once again open to low volume traffic, and sees about 200 cars per day on average.

The Steel Bridge is located in a geologically interesting area. The Saint Anthony Falls developed near the site of the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport about 10,000 years ago. The falls migrated upstream along the Mississippi River a few inches per year. When the falls reached the site of the Minnesota Veterans Home, it encountered a large rock that stopped the progression of the falls. The Mississippi River split into two channels, and the falls migrated upstream around the rock. The west channel encountered more rock and the falls was halted from moving, but it did continue to move upstream using the east channel. The river eventually abandoned the west channel. Later, the Minnehaha Creek found the partially filled in west channel, and used it for its final mile run to the Mississippi River. The creek entered the Lower Glen (as the old channel is called) with a cascade. As the river eroded the rock, this cascade became a falls. The falls has migrated upstream, creating a gorge between the present day site of the falls, and the Lower Glen Bridge #4. The net result is that the Minnehaha Creek flows through a river valley that is far wider and deeper than it could have ever created on its own.

The photo above is looking east towards the southwest end of the Steel Bridge. The photo below is looking northeast down the length of the bridge deck towards the Minnesota Veterans Home. The curved fence along the edge of the sidewalks was added when the bridge was rebuilt. The guardrails along the roadway are also modern additions. The original railings still exist behind the chain link fence on the outside edge of the bridge deck.

Steel Bridge
Steel Bridge
The photo above is looking northeast along the south face of the Steel Bridge. Due to the trees, it is not possible to get a good profile photo of this structure. The photo below is looking up at the bottom of the bridge from a trail that runs along Minnehaha Creek.

Steel Bridge
Steel Bridge
These two photos are views of the northeast end of the truss structure. The photo above is looking north towards the southeast face of the truss. The photo below is the footings that support the truss span.

Steel Bridge
Steel Bridge
These two photos are views of the southwest end of the truss structure. The photo above is the footings located on the Minnehaha Park side of the Lower Glen. The photo below is the southwest end of the truss span.

Steel Bridge

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