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Nicollet Island Railroad Bridge

Full name: St. Paul and Pacific Railroad Bridge (1867 - 1893, 1893 - present) 

Bridge type: wood Howe truss replaced by beam span bridge

The St. Paul and Pacific Railroad was one of many enterprises in which James J. Hill, builder of the Stone Arch Bridge, had a major financial interest. In 1867, the St. P & P RR built Minneapolis’ first cross-river railroad bridge, running from the middle of Nicollet Island to the foot of 3rd Avenue North on the west bank, with a shorter bridge connecting the island to the east bank.

St. P & P RR bridge, main channel looking toward Nicollet Island; engraving 1875

By 1879, the St. P& P RR had been taken over by the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba Railway, owned by Hill, which built the great Stone Arch Bridge in 1883. In 1893, the SPMM rebuilt the main-channel bridge as a beam span on stone piers. This was remodeled in 1926, and the east channel bridge was also replaced with a beam span at that time. In 1963, in conjunction with the extension of navigation above St. Anthony Falls, one pier and two beams were removed and replaced with a Petit truss to allow greater clearance for navigation. Further modifications were made to the west-bank abutments of the bridge when

1874 map showing Nicollet Island at center with St. P & P RR bridge crossing island

St. P & P RR bridge, east channel, with Nicollet Island at left, ca. 1875

Aerial view of river, looking upstream with Nicollet Island at right; second St. P & P RR main-channel bridge at rear, 1938. 3rd and Hennepin Avenue bridges in foreground.
West River Parkway was constructed in 1986-1987. Both east and west spans of the bridge are now owned by the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad.
Nicollet Island railroad bridge seen today from Hennepin Avenue bridge looking upstream
East channel portion of railroad bridge, 2005