Temporary Streetcar Bridge Linking Duluth And Superior, 1890s

A streetcar traverses frozen St. Louis Bay over a temporary bridge linking Duluth and Superior in the mid-1890s. (Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections, Kathryn A. Martin Library, University of Minnesota Duluth, via Duluth Public Library)

The first bridge to link Duluth and Superior was the St. Louis Bay Bridge, opened in 1885 by the Northern Pacific Railway.

Next up was the Grassy Point Bridge, built in 1887.

But both those bridges were for trains. Pedestrians and streetcar riders still needed to use ferries to cross between the two cities — something that became difficult or impossible during the winter months.

The next bridge to cross the harbor aimed to solve that problem. It was only temporary — but required a significant amount of effort nonetheless.

In late 1894, the Superior Rapid Transit Co. spent several thousand dollars to build a 400-yard-long temporary span for use during the winter months, when it was difficult for ferries to operate and there were no concerns about blocking the passage of freighters.

The bridge from Rice’s Point to Superior “is substantially built upon piling out of the vessel channel on both sides of the bay and the channel itself, which could not be obstructed with piling, is spanned in pontoon fashion by two large scows. These are filled with dirt as a foundation and upon them the single track from Superior is laid,” the News Tribune reported in December 1894.

“With the connections which will be made, it will be possible to take a car at the Spalding (Hotel in downtown Duluth), make one change at the foot of Garfield Avenue and step off the Superior car at Tower Avenue and Belknap Street in 40 minutes.”

The seasonal span returned the next few years — until the need for it was eliminated by the construction of the Interstate Bridge, which opened in 1897.