Duluth Aerial Transfer Bridge Myths
People have told plenty of tall tales regarding the aerial ferry bridge over the years. In 2005 Richard Sundberg told a reporter that his parents, Albert and Rose, were caught in a stalled ferry car during the stormy night of September 6, 1927, while rushing to the hospital from their home on Park Point. Rose was in labor, and baby Richard couldn’t wait for the car to get to the other side, so he came into the world “right there on the bucket of the bridge.” At the time city officials were hotly debating replacing the bridge, and its every malfunction made headlines—yet there is no mention of Sunberg’s birth in a single Duluth newspaper, and weather records show that September 6, 1927, was a sunny day in the Zenith City.
Another highly likely apocryphal tale tells of a woman named “Aerial” who claimed to have been conceived on the gondola.
When you consider that the ferry car was usually quite crowded and always had an operator on board, her parents exploit would likely have been public spectacle. And the ferry took just over a minute to cross, so if the story is true it is doubtful her father ever boasted of his accomplishment.
One more unverified incident melds comedy with tragedy. The story goes that a young betrothed couple began arguing as they rode the ferry car. When the ride was over, the distraught woman descended the ferry car, ran to the edge of the pier, and threw herself into the canal. Her dramatic suicide attempt was supposedly foiled by her enormous hoop skirt: When she landed in the canal, instead of sinking, she bobbed like a buoy until rescuers arrived and plucked her to safety.