Travel Theme: Bridges

The lift bridge in Duluth, Minnesota is a unique feat of engineering that is best demonstrated as one stands to the side watching the center lift for the numerous lake freighters and ocean vessels that stop in the city.  The port of Duluth is the farthest-inland freshwater seaport in North America.

Duluth, Minnesota's Aerial Lift Bridge

The Duluth Public Library has an interesting collection of historical photos along with this brief summary of the Aerial Lift Bridge’s history:

The Aerial Lift Bridge, one of the most popular tourist attractions in Minnesota, was constructed in 1904-1905 as the Aerial Ferry Bridge. Before that time, Park Point was only accessible by ferry boats and, during the winter months, a temporary suspension bridge. The original Aerial Ferry Bridge consisted of much of today’s structure but, instead of the lift span, a suspended car, or gondola, ferried people and vehicles on a one-minute trip across the canal. The gondola could carry the equivalent of a loaded street car, two loaded wagons with teams, and 350 people. The gondola made twelve trips per hour between 5:00 a.m. and midnight and two trips per hour from midnight until morning. The lift span was added in 1929-1930 to handle increased traffic. At that time, the bridge operators moved from running the gondola to working in the control house in the center of the span. The bridge first lifted for a vessel on March 29, 1930. The Aerial Bridge lifts an average of 5,500 times a year, and over forty times a day during the summer months. It is owned and operated by the City of Duluth.

You can enjoy a “live” webcam view of Duluth’s canal and harbor by viewing one of the Duluth Harbor Cam‘s many webcam links.  The Duluth Harbor Cam website also has a rich variety of facts and history about the bridge and the ships that frequent it.

Ship coming through Duluth, Minnesota's canal
Ship coming through Duluth, Minnesota’s canal (2001)

As I looked through my photos, I was struck by how few pictures I had taken of our time spent down by the canal, watching ships arrive into and depart the port.  Perhaps it is one of those sights that as a local that you accept as part of the landscape, and while always getting a thrill as the ship and bridge call back and forth with their loud horns, it is not a sight that you frequently go to see with camera intentionally in hand.  As the years go by, it instead is often a sight you see while in Canal Park for dinner or some other event, coincidentally timed with a ship’s passage.  I do believe that I need to make an “intentional” trip to the lift bridge soon, with camera in hand!

Ciao! ~ Kat

Join in Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Theme at Where’s My Backpack? — “Bridges” is this week’s theme.  Details on how to participate and other responses to this week’s theme can be found here.

9 responses to “Travel Theme: Bridges”

  1. I have studied bridges some from our genealogy. I found out that my husband’s paternal ancestor from the late 1700’s was involved in a lot of the buildings in Ohio in his area including bridges. It is fascinating to look at how they are built. Thanks for this post.


  2. Make sure to catch a picture of tall ships this summer as they go under the bridge — it is truly a sight to behold (and catch on film!).


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