Monday, November 2, 2009
1894 Rock Island Swing Bridge
Though my fascination with abandoned things began long before, I wanted to post some photos of a place that most recently renewed my interest in a big way. In spring of 2007, based on a tip from a coworker, we decided to go take a peek at this old bridge over the Mississippi in Inver Grove Heights. Though not particularly "mysterious" like abandoned buildings can be, this bridge and it's connected railroad line were there very definition of "abandoned." You could literally feel both history and time here spelled out plain as day in the rusted steel, wheathered wood and overgrown tracks. In addition, there were so many other interesting things about this bridge than just it's age. In it's rich history the bridge carried the Rock Island Railroad on top, cars underneath, had a swing-span that opened to let barges through, was crossed by John Dillinger after a gun battle, was a toll bridge, then a free bridge, then a toll bridge again owned by a private citizen. If you're lucky enough not stumble upon a place like this on your own, and/or be the only persons there at the time, it definitely helps lend to the overall feeling of wonderment about the place. Such was the case on this day in April and it is truly one of the best abandoned places I'll remember. Having made such a memorable impression on me, it's very fitting that this place has since been in the news ever since with stories of its impending fate. Just this spring, most of the structure was demolished, including the entire swing span as well as the eastern and western side entrances thus making it impossible to access what remains of the bridge out in the middle of the river. This certainly adds fuel to whatever motivation I already have for stopping and exploring abandoned places. It sounds like a dorky reason to pull over on the highway or drive out of your way but you never know if that place will still be there the next time you drive by. Read more about this unique -and now gone- bridge at http://www.johnweeks.org/bridges/pages/ms02.html.