History up in smoke

(Photo: Melissa Neibacher Photography )

A little bit of history went up in smoke in Inver Grove Heights this afternoon when what’s left of the Rock Island Swing Bridge burned. The bridge over the Mississippi was once owned by the old Rock Island Railroad. Railroad tracks were on the top of the bridge, cars were on the bottom.

For a time, it was a private toll road across the river until an inspector found it was unsafe. The owner didn’t have the money to fix it, so it closed.

The definitive history of the bridge and tons of great pictures can be found at this site.

I took one of the last pictures of the bridge by air, shortly before demolition of it began in the spring of 2009.


Developers had hoped to turn the bridge into a pier over the river as part of a $2.4 million tourist attraction. In fact, ribbon-cutting was originally scheduled for this week, but it was delayed because of last month’s flooding.