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Aged and Rusting: War Memorial Bridge

Aged and Rusting: War Memorial Bridge

This is War Memorial Bridge, sometimes known as Climax Bridge due to its proximity to Climax, Minnesota. The bridge’s official designation is MNDot Bridge #7097. War Memorial Bridge spans the Red River on Minnesota’s western border, between Polk County, Minnesota, and Traill County, North Dakota.

War Memorial Bridge

War Memorial Bridge was built in 1957 and it is considered a significant historical bridge by the state of Minnesota, due in part to its unique construction. As described by MNDOT’s historic bridges page:

The bridge was designed to accommodate shifting Red River of the North soils through previously established engineering techniques such as the use of long approach spans, rocker bents, long finger expansion joints, and swivel hinges. It is significant for its truss design and exemplifying the cooperation between North Dakota and Minnesota highway departments to improve connections between the two states.

Read MNDOT’s PDF report on War Memorial Bridge.

War Memorial Bridge

I decided to photograph this bridge along with several others for a potential future book about bridges. These steel truss bridges are disappearing all the time, to be replaced with highly-functional but comparatively boring modern highway bridges. Another bridge just a few miles to the south, Nielsville Bridge, built in 1939, is a good example. It is closed due to its deteriorating condition, but a grant for a new bridge was denied in 2016, leaving its fate undetermined. I think it’s best to photograph these places before they’re gone.

War Memorial Bridge

War Memorial Bridge

Above: Looking over the Red River of the North from the roadway.

War Memorial Bridge
Image / Google Earth

Above: War Memorial Bridge is directly west of Climax, Minnesota, or about 15 minutes southwest of Crookston. What do you know about War Memorial Bridge? Please leave a comment.

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright © 2017 Sonic Tremor Media

Phelps Mill

Phelps Mill

This is Phelps Mill, in Ottertail County, about fourteen miles northeast of Fergus Falls, Minnesota. It was originally known as Maine Roller Mills.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This mill began operations in 1889 and prospered as a flour mill in the age of hyrdopower that predated steam, gas, and electric mills. The plaque on-site says it closed for good in 1939. The sign shown below says 1931.

Ottertail County bought the site in 1965, and ten years later it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

We drove up to the mill one weekend afternoon and I was surprised to see the mill standing with the door wide open, welcoming travelers who were passing through. There is also a really nice little riverside park here, perfect for a picnic.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

 

This place has it’s own arts and crafts festival every year in July.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The restoration and development referenced in the sign above is largely credited to a campaign by local activist Geneva Tweten, referenced on the plaque below.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The mill is open to the public and pretty well-trafficked on a beautiful day like this. We saw twenty or more vehicles come through while we were there, which is pretty impressive considering the remoteness of the site. I also discovered my cellphone was reception was less-than-total.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The fall colors were just starting to show.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

The Ottertail River is gorgeous from above.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

This window was covered in flies, and for just a moment I had an Amityville flashback.

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Phelps Mill, Minnesota

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Downtown Moorhead

Downtown Moorhead

In 1965, downtown Moorhead still existed, as you can see from the postcard shown here — a view from the Center Avenue Bridge looking east.  But the popularity of West Acres Mall in Fargo instigated some developments that were of questionable judgement.  In the postcard shown here, you see dozens of buildings that no longer exist — the bulk of downtown Moorhead.  In an ill-advised urban renewal project, most of downtown Moorhead was razed to make way for the Moorhead Center Mall and the new Moorhead City Hall.  The new development was wholly inadequate to compete with West Acres and quickly declined into an urban ghost town.

Although the Moorhead Center Mall has been going through a mild resurgence over the last few years, there aren’t many who would defend its existence.  One block to the south, Main Avenue has gone through an extensive renovation in an attempt to recapture some of the history and downtown feel that was lost when this area was demolished.   In the postcard below, all the structures on the left side of the street, and a few on the right, are now gone.  The former FM Hotel is the primary remaining landmark.

Today, there are more neighborhoods on the fringe of downtown Moorhead which are suffering from blight and absentee landlords, and a vocal group of local residents are pushing to have the properties demolished.  Let’s hope cooler heads prevail.  Moorhead has already lost enough of their history.

center-ave-1965

The same scene in 2011 is shown below.

center-ave-2011

Original content copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC

Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge

Canal Park and Aerial Lift Bridge

Canal Park in Duluth is a very enjoyable place to spend some time if you love the outdoors, the water, and drinking and dining.  The main attraction is really the aerial lift bridge, but there is a ton to see and do.  We visited for three days and had a great time.

Pictured above are the two lighthouses at the tip of each pier at the entrance from Lake Superior to the Duluth-Superior Harbor.  The ships travel the channel in between the two piers, under the aerial lift bridge.

This is the aerial lift bridge.  It is an amazing sight.  It started out as an aerial transporter — or gondola — bridge.  It was one of only two transporter bridges ever constructed in the United States.  Originally, a gondola hung from the superstructure, and vehicles would be loaded onto the gondola, and then transported across the harbor — like a ferry suspended from the bridge.  In 1930, the gondola was replaced with the lift bridge road surface — a roadway that raises and lowers every half hour to allow ships to pass underneath.

This lighthouse resides on the north pier and is a popular tourist destination.  It’s is a stone’s throw from the Comfort Suites, right on the Lakewalk.

In the photo above, you can see the lift bridge going up on the right to allow our boat to pass underneath.  The traffic in canal park gets pretty hairy every time this bridge goes up.

This small bridge is actually a draw bridge which breaks open in the center and raises in two pieces.  It marks the entrance between the harbor and the marina.

We took a Lake Superior and Harbor cruise on this boat, the Vista Star.  The Vista Fleet is a very affordable and fun way to spend an afternoon in Canal Park, Duluth.

When we woke up on the second day of our trip, a fog had rolled in off Lake Superior.

Below is a bird’s eye view of Canal Park.  You can see the lift bridge left of center.  On the left is Lake Superior, and on the right is the Duluth Harbor.

Photos by Troy, copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC


Duluth’s Abandoned Interstate Bridge

Duluth’s Abandoned Interstate Bridge

This is what remains of the Interstate Bridge between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin.  It has been converted to a public fishing pier.

Built in 1897, the Interstate Bridge was the first bridge to span the bay. Prior to 1897, the only way to quickly travel between Duluth and Superior, Wisconsin was to take a ferry.

Interstate Bridge went through a whole series of changes and modifications to handle the changing transportation demands of the times. Originally it was a rail bridge with two parallel rail lines, and a wooden roadway for horse-drawn wagons was suspended off the side. The remaining portion of the bridge shown above constitutes two-fifths of the original bridge. Beyond the truss portion of the bridge shown above there was the main swing-span portion of the bridge, which could rotate 9o degrees to allow ships to pass, and on the other end, two more sections like those shown above, a truss bridge connected to the shoreline by an approach bridge made of wooden pilings. Later, the bridge became a toll bridge when automobiles began to overwhelm the crossing with traffic.

This bridge was used until December 21st, 1962, when the swing span was locked in the open position. It was demolished in the 1970s. Read a lot more about this bridge via John Weeks.

There is a public boat ramp right between the two bridges.

Above: Blatnik Bridge, also commonly referred to as the High Bridge by locals. It replaced the Interstate Bridge.  In 2016, a Minnesota man lost control of his vehicle and went over the guardrail of this bridge, landing 40 feet below on an approach road. Luckily, the accident happened before he was over the water.

Check out another Duluth area bridge — the Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park.

Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media

Georgetown, Minnesota

Georgetown, Minnesota

Georgetown is about 20 minutes north of Moorhead on the Red River.  I took a drive out there to photograph this bridge which crosses the Red River from Minnesota into North Dakota, and ended up on a mini-adventure.

Some kind of strange alien carcass.
Under the bridge.
Plainsmen Black Powder Club, Members & Guests. Sounds inviting.

The abandoned Georgetown school. One empty space in a small agricultural town.

Driving around near Georgetown, Minnesota, I stumbled into a seldom used road with this little one-lane bridge.

Beautiful
The bridge deck clatters charmingly as you drive across.

Photos by Troy, Copyright Sonic Tremor Media LLC