February 26, 1916 & 1919: Controversial paved bridge over Chester Creek

On this day in both 1916 and 1919, headlines concerned a proposed bridge over Chester Creek. Today in 1916 the Munger Improvement Association announced plans to replace a wooden bridge over the creek to better serve automobiles and and extend the streetcar line. The proposed bridge would be 250 feet long, stretching between Ninth Street at Fourteenth Avenue East and Eighth Street at Sixteenth Avenue East and was estimated to cost $40,000. The club hoped funding for the bridge would be part of the 1917 budget. In January 1917, Public Works Commissioner Bert Farrell announced plans for a $229,500 bond issue for bridge repair and road work that included $45,000 for the Chester Creek bridge. But when the bond issue reached the Capital in St. Paul, Farrell was advised that it would not pass if the bridge was included because it would be new construction, not a repair. Farrell did so reluctantly, saying that “I do believe that the construction of the Chester Park bridge is one of the two bridges necessary for growth up the hill.” In 1918 the old wooden bridge was resurfaced, and when residents surrounding Chester Park met in August to discuss a new bridge, Mayor C. R. Magney attended, expressing his opposition to such a project during war time. The project looked dead, but on this day in 1919, the newspaper announced that the Public Works Department was taking soundings at the bridge site to locate bedrock for supports—but it wasn’t until June of that year that the city council “rather unexpectedly” authorized the bridge’s construction. Work started almost immediately, and the first step was to move the park pavilion, which was located “directly in the path of the bridge.” On July 28 the Duluth News Tribune said construction had been hastened and should be ready for use in October. Indeed, a story about the record $886,000 in street improvements made in 1918 included mention of “a handsome, reinforced concrete bridge over Chester Creek in Chester Park.” It was the largest street bridge in Duluth at the time.

Architect’s sketch of the Chester Park Bridge. (Image: Zenith City Press)