March 12, 1930: First Streetcar to pass over the Aerial Lift Bridge

On this day in Duluth in 1930, the first trolley cars crossed the newly converted Aerial Lift Bridge for the first time. The Park Point line went between Piedmont Avenue and the “end of the Park Point carline” at 43rd Street on Minnesota Avenue. The car ran regularly every 20 minutes, except during the “morning and afternoon rush hours.” This schedule would, of course, be affected by the raising and lowering of the bridge for ship traffic. Prior to the bridge’s conversion, the streetcar stopped at Lake and Morse St., riders got off, took the ferry bridge over the canal as passengers, and then boarded another streetcar that ran up and down Minnesota Point. In fact, until 1917 the Minnesota Point Railway Company (which eventually became Interstate Traction) ran that line independent of the Duluth Street Railway Company. (Since the canal essentially cut Park Point off from the rest of Duluth, the trolley company outfitted one car with firefighting equipment and the city supplied a firefighter to operate it; the rig was the only streetcar outfitted as a fire car in North America.) Now, for the first time—if the bridge’s lift span was lowered for traffic—riders could enjoy a continuous trip over the canal without transferring and walking. But the bridge’s service as a link in the street railway was short-lived. The very next year the Duluth Street Railway company began its eight-year process of converting to buses. Service over the Aerial Bridge lasted until 1938, but just during the rush-hour periods. Read about the life of Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge from 1930 to 20015—the aerial bridge’s 100th birthday—here.

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