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No Bridge — 11 Comments

  1. Super interesting, Keith! I have often wondered about the strange loop at that point in the road but had never taken my musings to the next stage of wondering why there is no bridge. The gorge is my favorite place to look at fall colors, even though it’s impossible to capture the layers/depth of trees in a picture. It’s one of those spots that you just have to see in person to appreciate. I feel lucky that I get to drive by it on my way to and from work every day during the fall!

  2. Thanks, Caley! I admire that little park too; exploring its goat trails is on the to-do list come spring.

    It looks like the “rustic bridges” were honored more in the conception than in the construction. I brought up Google Maps with terrain displayed and scanned southward from the Frankin Street bridge. The parkways on both sides of the river appear to jog around ravines at each opportunity, instead of bridging over them. For example there is a depression just north of Highland Parkway, and the River Boulevard jogs east to avoid it. A little bit south on the Ford property, the boulevard misses another chance to bridge a ravine in a rustic fashion. And on the western side, the roadway dodges the Mississippi Gorge Regional Park by shifting farther west.

  3. The ravine has exposed Decorah Limestone that is full of fossils. St. Thomas geology students have been trouncing around down there for decades . . . sometimes looking at the fossils.

  4. Hi LD. One of the links in my piece goes to the blog of an enthusiastic (amateur?) geologist, who attended St. Thomas. Sounds like he mostly went down in Shadow Falls Park looking at the rocks.

    He notes that the Parks Dept. does not encourage the taking of fossils out of that location. Though they abound there.

  5. They did span one ravine, just north of here in fact. The bridge over Cavanaugh falls adjacent to the Town & Country Club. Cavanaugh Falls was not considered as scenic as Shadow Falls, and much of the gorge was privately owned by the golf club since 1899. I imagine that’s why one was bridged and the other was not. The bridge was removed sometime in the 1960s when T&CC managed to bury the falls under fill from the construction of I-94, to build parking of course. If you follow the treeline just south of Pelham you can see the guardrail leading to what would have been the approach of the bridge. That’s also the reason why the slope is treeless, the fill was of low quality. I have photos of the first “rustic bridge” and the later concrete arch.

  6. Sean, that is excellent, thanks! Can you post those photos in a comment here? If not, please email them to me and I will see to it.

  7. See if this works…

    Postcard view looking north. Meeker Island dam and Short Line RR bridge in background:

    Looking south 1915:

    Rutic, looking south 1904:

    And finally, Google Maps from a similar point of view as the above:

  8. Kavanagh Falls (1901), before it was filled in:

    Ravine in green; River Blvd, Otis, and Pelham outlined in blue:

  9. Wow, Keith. I’ve always wondered about that jog, even though it creates quite a bit of drama on the drive. Whenever I’m returning to Bloomington from places in NE or downtown or SE Minneapolis, I take this drive, all seasons. It is absolutely lovely and distracting. You can be lost in thought and enjoying the view and you hardly remember the time spent on the way home. This truly is one of the most spectacular river roads in the nation and the incredible lots and homes, vistas from the walking trails, rest stops and park-lets are all amazing. I’m quite sure very few Twin Citians, however, know much about the many falls, beaches, creek mouths, and hidden trails and parks line the river bluffs of the Mississippi.

  10. Now I have a place to recharge if I ever get my walkabout to include Twin Cities. These North Easterners miss the Dawson family.

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