Lester Park’s Rustic Bridge

September's Lost Landmark

This postcard of the rustic bridge over the Lester River was made between 1900 and 1915. (Image: Zenith City Press)

After heavy rains in 1896 washed out many of the river’s foot bridges, Duluth’s Park Board commissioned John Busha to build a bridge across the river. In the winter of 1897 Busha, along with sons Abraham and George, set to work felling Lester Park’s cedar trees and using teams of horses to haul them to a site along the river. Then the Bushas started putting the unpeeled logs together until they spanned the river. Finally, they adorned the masterwork by carving Ojibwe embroidery designs into the wood. Their efforts earned the Bushas $345.68. The “Rustic Bridge,” as it was called, became a popular tourist stop, with picnic tables on the bottom deck and lounging on the upper promenade. The lower deck even featured large square viewing holes (surrounded by rails) that allowed picnickers to look down on the Lester’s roiling brown waters as they made their way to Lake Superior. Unfortunately, nature took its toll on the bridge, and the upper deck had to be removed in 1916 due to safety concerns. In 1931 the lower deck met the same fate. Read more about John Busha and his bridge-building sons here.

September's Lost Landmark

One Response to Lester Park’s Rustic Bridge

  1. Too bad things like this will never be permitted to happen again. The artistic effort that the Bushas put into building this magnificent bridge! And, done for peanuts compared to the “union” scaled costs,”union” regulations and required permits, DNR regulations and all required permits, City ordinances and required permits, City politics, City “low income” needs, all associated with not being permitted to doing it nowadays. At best it would take 5 years of City Council meetings and liberal minded politicking to be able to start construction. This Rustic Bridge was true “workmanship” at its best! The art of the past is no longer appropriate nowadays.

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