March 12, 1913: Engineer calls for radical alteration of Lester Park’s Rustic Bridge

On this day in Duluth in 1913, the city engineer recommended that sever alterations be made to the famous Rustic Bridge in Lester Park. The report came after thee Lester Park Improvement Club had contacted the city council to report the bridge was in “dangerous condition.” Upon inspection, engineers found that while the bridge’s timbers were in good condition, the two-level pavilion atop the bridge should be removed. Unless it was removed, engineer Wilson had “little faith in the stability of the span. Wilson told reporters that “The time when the bridge is most dangerous is when people are running for shelter under the pavilion and this makes the danger of the collapse much greater. If the double-decked pavilion were taken off, the top load of the bridge would be cut down and it ought then to be a comparatively easy task to brace the structure at a small cost. The bridge was just sixteen years old, built in the winter of 1897–1898 by John Busha and his sons Abraham and George—by hand. According to Abraham Busha, their efforts earned the three men a total of $345.68—less than $10,000 today, and the materials cost nothing. There’s more to the history of Lester Park’s Rustic bridge, and you can read it here.

Color postcard of the Lester River Rustic Bridge over the Lester River, Duluth, Minnesota, made from a photo by W. H. Jackson and published by Detroit Publishing Co. in 1902. (Image: Mark Ryan)