Bridges have stood at this location just north of the Princess Depot in Minnehaha Park since 1865, when the Milwaukee Road first connected the Twin Cities to the national railroad network. Trains travelled south from downtown Minneapolis, through Minnehaha Park, and across a bridge near Pike Island to downtown St. Paul. This was the only rail route in and out of Minneapolis until 1879, when the massive Short Line Bridge was constructed to cross the river gorge directly and greatly reduce travel times. The Short Line Bridge marks the northern border of Longfellow and is still in use today.
While the Short Line and other more direct routes took over most passenger service, the line to Minnehaha Park remained open for tourists. As many as 30 trains a day brought millions of visitors to see the falls through 1920.
The line was revived to carry troops during the Second World War and the Korean War, and then abandoned for good in 1963. All that remains of the route, more than 150 years after its construction, are this bridge, the Princess Depot, and a few overgrown tracks further south.
This picture was taken after sunset. The glow is from one of the street lights on Hiawatha Ave.
Photo: Daniel Feldman