March 11, 1927: First car crosses Arrowhead Bridge

On this day in Duluth in 1927, an automobile passed over the brand new Arrowhead Bridge between West Duluth and Superior for the first time. But that first automobile did not indicate the bridge was open for business. It was driven by James B. Finch, promoter of the Arrowhead Bridge Company, which built the bridge, accompanied by P. H. Martin and W. H. Gretchel. The bridge had been opened for construction traffic to allow trucks to haul construction materials, but the bridge’s approaches were not finished and it was thought that if traffic opened to the public, it would be too easy for cars to get bogged in the mud. The bridge officially opened later that year on July 16. Superior’s Walter Buch claimed to be the first person to cross the bridge in a car (after Smith, of course)—and thereby the first to pay its toll. In 1963 the bridge became jointly owned by Minnesota and Wisconsin and the toll was dropped. The bridge itself was closed in 1985 after being rendered obsolete with the construction of the Richard I. Bong Memorial Bridge. It cost $700,000 to dismantle the Arrowhead Bridge, $200,000 more than the original construction cost.

The Arrowhead Bridge.