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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Foot Bridge At Headwaters
Mississippi River Trail Crossing
Itasca State Park, MN

Foot Bridge At Headwaters

• Location: River Mile 1346.9
• River Elevation: 1,474 Feet
• County: Clearwater
• Bridge Type: Wood Trestle
• Bridge Length: 177 Feet
• Bridge Width: 6 Feet
• Height Above Water: 3 Feet
• Date Built: 1991
This foot bridge is located between the headwaters and the Visitor's Center in Itasca State Park. It is the second bridge on the river, and the third man-made structure. The bridge is wavy due to heaving caused by the freeze and thaw cycles in winter and spring. The headwaters area is very marshy, and it isn't practical to sink pilings down to bed rock. As a result, the bridge is easily displaced as the soil moves. This bridge provides an alternative path to the headwaters for people who want to follow the river channel more closely.

While the picture postcard scene at the headwaters is totally manufactured, the real character of the original Mississippi River is apparent here as a low wide marsh with no specific river channel. Around 1900, a group of local loggers decided that it was not proper that such a great river get its start by running through a muddy swamp. They dug a new channel to bypass the marsh. That is the channel that we see today. This foot bridge spans both the new channel and the remainder of the marsh, and the two channels join just downstream of this bridge.

The photo above is a view looking west down the length of the bridge. The photo below is a view looking east from an observation deck on the west side of the river channel.

Foot Bridge At Headwaters

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Authored by John A. Weeks III, Copyright © 1996—2016, all rights reserved.
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