September 24, 1971: Duluth-Superior “High Bridge” renamed after John A. Blatnik

On this day in Duluth in 1971, the Duluth-Superior Bridge, aka the “High Bridge,” was renamed in honor of Minnesota’s 8th District congressman, John A. Blatnik. Built to replace the Interstate Bridge, the 7,975-foot Duluth-Superior Bridge, which stretches between Duluth’s Rice’s Point to Superior’s Conner’s Point, first opened in 1961. Its construction resulted in the loss of the Garfield Avenue District, a residential neighborhood on Rice’s Point originally called “Swede Town.” At the 1971 re-dedication ceremony, U.S. Secretary of Transportation John Volpe said that Blatnik “played a key role in establishing and fostering the foundation for this magnificent [Interstate Highway] program back during the Eisenhower Administration.” When it was his turn to speak, Blatnik said that the bridge “will long stand not so much as a memorial to me but as a reminder of what this bridge means to our area, both in substance and in symbol.” After the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge opened in 1985 connecting western Duluth and Superior (and replacing the 1927 Arrowhead Bridge), the new span spawned a bad joke: “The best way to get from Duluth to Superior and back again is to go over on the Bong and come back on the High.” All joking aside, you can learn more about Mr. Blatnik here.

John A. Blatnik. (Image: Library of Congress)

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