November 21, 1924: The second wreck of the Interstate Bridge

On this day in Duluth in 1924, captain A. R. Morse accidentally steered the 600-foot, 8,000-ton steamer Merton E. Farr into the Interstate Bridge, the only non-railway bridge connecting Duluth and Superior at the time. Defective steering gear was blamed for the accident. The Farr was loaded with 430,000 bushels of flax, experienced only slight damage to her bow. The next day the Great Northern Railway, which owned the bridge, put eight barges and a crew of 100 men to work to clear the wreckage and rebuild the bridge, a task that was estimated to take between a month and 45 days. According to the Duluth News Tribune, it was an interesting engineering feet: “The eight barges will be sunk to the bottom of the harbor, four on each side of the span, and cross pieces will be placed under the span and to the sunken barges. Then the water will be pumped out of the barges which, rising to the surface, are expected to float the span.” Meanwhile, other plans had to be made. Several craft were pressed into service as ferry boats, conveying people, wagons, automobiles, and even streetcars across the bay, and passenger docks were hastily built on Rice’s Point at the end of the streetcar line. The bridge had previously been wrecked in 1906. You can read all about that accident here and a more complete history of the bridge here.

The Interstate Bridge, which connected Duluth and Superior ca. 1900. (Image: Zenith City Press)