From the Archive: The inspiration for Duluth’s famed Aerial Bridge

Duluth’s unique Aerial Lift Bridge, the only one on the planet with a top span, was converted form a transfer bridge that was also unique: the only stiff-girded transfer bridge and the only ever built in North America. And just like the lift bridge, many people mistakenly believe Duluth’s transfer bridge was the first one ever built. In fact, it was the world’s third transfer bridge, modeled on the work of French bridge engineer Ferdinand Arnodin. Arnodin’s design had to be altered to work in Duluth’s cold climate and narrow canal, which made the DUluth bridge unique. Read the full story of Arnodin’s revolutionary bridge and how Duluth’s city engineer Thomas McGilvray and bridge engineer C. A. P. Turner altered it to work in Duluth here.

Ferdinand Arnodin’s transfer bridge in Rouen, France. (Image: Duluth Public Library)


  1. Kathy Dolan on May 3, 2021 at 10:43 am

    There is an aerial bridge just like our current bridge in Rotterdam. I saw it years ago!!

    • Tony Dierckins on May 3, 2021 at 11:31 am

      The Rotterdam bridge is a lift bridge, but it has no top span like Duluth’s lift bridge. It also has three spans (center span lifts) and Duluth’s bridge has just one span. And it is a railroad bridge, while ours is an automobile and pedestrian bridge. More info an picture on the Rotterdam bridge here:

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