Website of Joe Landsberger

The reward of one duty
is the power
to fulfill another.
George Eliot 1819 - 1880

The sculpture gardens of the North High Bridge Park

City of Saint Paul History | High Bridge History | Park History
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History of Saint Paul's High Bridge

High Bridge demolition:
3:55 p.m. Sunday,
February 24, 1985

As many as 25,000 spectators gathered around dozens of vantage points up and down the river.
I took this sequence on my front porch.

Implosion of the
High Bridge Smokestack:

7:30 a.m. Saturday, June 27, 2008


High Bridge: 

Robert Smith was both State Senator (1886- 1890) and City Mayor (1887 -1892). In January 1887 he introduced a bill into the State Senate a resolution to issue $500,000 in city bonds for the construction of a new bridge between the river bluffs near the Upper Landing. The bill was passed and signed, but not without concern of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce over allocation of funds for bridges vs. parks, and the burden of such an amount.

Two contracts were let: one for the substructure to Arthur McMullen of McMullen and Morris Company from Minneapolis for $139,119 on May 17, 1887. The second contract for the superstructure of $340,324 went to the Keystone bridge company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

1904 high bridge The Keystone Company was organized from the bridge building firm of Piper and Schiffler in 1865. The original investors included Andrew Carnegie (Pennsylvania railroad Company), John Piper and Jacob Linville. Originally the company specialized in the construction of bridges and building for the railroad's tracks and trains, although they quickly expanded into design and fabrication of highway bridges. Piper and Linville were the visionaries, and began to use cast iron instead of wood for construction. Cast iron, however, was not satisfactory for the longer spans needed for the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, and Carnegie prided himself in being on the first to recognize wrought iron as a superior building material. Wrought iron was first used in Dubuque, Iowa in 1868. Union Iron Works, situated next to Keystone in Pittsburgh, became the direct supplier of standard rolled iron shapes to Keystone.

A digest of St. Paul's High Bridge 1889-1985,
a publication of the Minnesota Department of Transportation,
District Nine, Oakdale, MN, © 1985 State of Minnesota

High Bridge History 1904 Storm


The Wrecked High Bridge is
the most Serious Property Loss
Caused By the Storm in Its Passage Over the City

St. Paul rose with the sun yesterday morning, expecting to find a devastated city, and was surprised. The extreme fears of those who had experienced the terrifying winds, the dazzling flashes of lighting, the deafening peals of thunder, and the roar of bursting timbers were not realized.

The greatest single property loss was the destruction of two spans of the high bridge, a burden which will fall upon the city at large. Any attempt to estimate the aggregate property loss would be but the wildest guess. The damage is distributed among thousands of residents and hundreds of business houses...

The Daily Pioneer Press,
August 22, 1904, p. 1.

A view of the city and the destruction looking east in 1904

The first major repair to the bridge was replacing the five southernmost spans. These were sheared from the structure and dropped 100 yards downstream in a storm which registered winds in excess of 180 mph before the anemometer broke.

The rebuilt portion of the bridge was reconstructed according to the plans of the original bridge. At first it was thought that part of the tangled wreckage could be salvaged from the river for reuse. However, the damage was too severe, and "mild steel" now replaced the original wrought iron. Mild steel contains less of the impurities which inhibit rust expansion than wrought iron, and these rebuilt sections were in the worst deteriorated when the bridge was demolished.

The total cost of reconstruction was $61,000 and it was reopened in June of 1905.

Adapted with permission from
St. Paul's High Bridge 1889-1985
Minnesota Department of Transportation,

Photos complements of the
Minnesota Historical Society

345 Kellogg Blvd. West,

St. Paul, MN 55102

City of Saint Paul history

High Bridge History

North High Bridge Park History

NHB Sculpture Garden