September 27, 1911: Aerial Bridge breaks down, Park Point resident complains

On this day in Duluth in 1911, the Aerial Transfer Bridge was knocked out of commission, scaring passengers and causing at least one Park Point resident to cry foul. Indeed, four Park Point residents had been “nearly frightened out of their boots,” according to the Duluth News Tribune, when the ferry car abruptly stopped and swerved, “making it appear the whole structure was going into the canal.” Bridge supervisor Leonard Green explained that a recently installed metal plates had  become loose and the wheels of the trucks the car rode upon had struck the plate, throwing the trucks out of alignment. One Park Pointer had had enough of the bridge’s frequent breakdowns, telling the newspaper that “We who are using the bridge daily are becoming skeptical as to its practicability. The board of public works has just completed an expensive overhaul …and since its completion it had been running less than four days. Either the work was badly slighted or the bridge is no good. There is a grave fear among the people on the Point that some day the thing will collapse, dropping the car into the canal, and drowning a lot of people.” Green also assured readers that “there is not the slightest danger of the car falling, no matter what might happen to the machinery overhead.” Meanwhile a steamboat was put into service as a ferry to get people across the canal. The bridge served Duluth for another 19 years before it was converted into today’s Aerial Lift Bridge, and the gondola car never once fell into the canal. Read about the life of Duluth’s Aerial Transfer Bridge here, and how it was converted into a lift bridge here.

Duluth’s Aerial Transfer Bridge photographed on its first day of operation in 1905. (Image: Duluth Public Library)sfer

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