September 4, 1913: Aerial Bridge Out of Commission

On this day in Duluth in 1913, a cable that pulled the Duluth Aerial Transfer Bridge’s gondola car snapped, disabling the ferry bridge stranding the car—and passengers—above the North Pier of the Duluth Ship Canal. Passengers had to descend the car using a ladder; luckily, there were no teams or automobiles on the ferry car. Vehicles were stranded on Minnesota Point until the cable could be replaced, which at first was estimated to take three days. Captain E. D. Peck of the Corps of Engineers—who oversaw all traffic through or across the canal—immediately sent a government launch to help pedestrians cross the canal. Within three hours of the accident the steamer Plowboy, captained by Walter S. Lloyd, was pressed into service to perform ferry duties until the repairs could be made, taking passengers from the city-owned Morse Dock north of the canal to the privately owned Osborne Docks beyond the canal’s south pier. Horse-drawn wagons, trucks, and automobiles would have to wait for the bridge to be repaired. The bridge went back into service on Wednesday, September 10. Just two days later it was shut down again, this time for two weeks of annual maintenance. Read more about Duluth’s Aerial Transfer Bridge, predecessor to the Aerial Lift Bridge, here.

Duluth’s Aerial Transfer Bridge’s gondola car ca. 1907. (Image: Lake Superior Maritime Collection)er