SIA 2013: Mighty Mississippi

Tales from SIA 2013 continue with Friday’s tour named, “Mighty Mississippi: A Twin Cities Riverboat Cruise with the Experts.” (There are typically four tours from which to choose on the Friday.)

Mighty Mississippi!

Mighty Mississippi!

The tour began via bus, which would bring the group from St. Paul into Minneapolis. The tour began with the 7th Street Improvement Arches, which are 1884 masonry arch bridges constructed in the helicoidal (spiral) method. These bridges were on a former rail line, but are now the corridor is an active bike path in St. Paul.

Helicoidal construction in the Seventh Street Improvement Arches.

Helicoidal construction in the Seventh Street Improvement Arches.

Seventh Street Improvement Arches, with the bike path.

Seventh Street Improvement Arches, with the bike path.

Continuing into Minneapolis we saw the city skyline and many mills lining the Mississippi River. After seeing the (newest) Hennepin Avenue Bridge and Nicollet Island, we strolled across the Stone Arch Bridge with a NPS ranger who gave a history of the river corridor. The Mississippi River is a National River & Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service.

Pillsbury "A" Mill in Minneapolis.

Pillsbury “A” Mill in Minneapolis.

The SIA group walking across the bridge.

The SIA group walking across the bridge.

What a lovely skyline: historic buildings and new buildings all in one.

What a lovely skyline: historic buildings and new buildings all in one.

Everyone boarded a riverboat in the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. To those of us (like me) who had never been in a dam & lock before, this was very exciting!

Learning how a dam & lock operates, as we travel down.

Learning how a dam & lock operates, as we travel down.

And then once through the lock & dam, the views of the city were spectacular, especially the Stone Arch bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge from the river.

The Stone Arch Bridge from the river.

The Gold Medal Flour sign can be seen on the grain elevators on the left.

The Gold Medal Flour sign can be seen on the grain elevators on the left.

The tour on the riverboat included many, many bridges, historic and new. While touring these bridges, our guides included bridge experts, historians and the boat operator, who offered history and significance of the bridges and surrounding resources. Here are just a few images from the day:

The new I-35W bridge in te background and 10th Ave (Cedar Ave) bridge in the foreground.

The new I-35W bridge in te background and 10th Ave (Cedar Ave) bridge in the foreground.

Up close and personal with all of the bridges.

Up close and personal with all of the bridges.

Minnesota is lucky to have many open spandrel concrete arch bridges.

Minnesota is lucky to have many open spandrel concrete arch bridges.

This is the Omaha Railway Swing Bridge, which the operator opened for us to see!

This is the Omaha Railway Swing Bridge, which the operator opened for us to see! Here it is shown completely open as we floated down the river.

A miniature stone arch bridge.

A miniature stone arch bridge. The Mendota Road Bridge.

A new bridge: The Smith Avenue High Bridge in St. Paul.

A new bridge: The Smith Avenue High Bridge in St. Paul.

Back in St. Paul: the Chicago Great Western Railway Vertical Lift Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge.

Back in St. Paul: the Chicago Great Western Railway Vertical Lift Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge.

Among many bridges,there were other interesting sites to see along the river including the abandoned Island Station Power Plant.

Abandoned Minnesota? The Island Power Plant.

Abandoned Minnesota. The Island Station Power Plant.

Part of the St. Paul skyline.

Part of the St. Paul skyline.

And that is only some of the scenes from the tour. It was a beautiful day (the clouds only threatened us for a short while in the afternoon). The tour included lunch as well. It was a perfect day on the river. Hats off to the organizers and sponsors: the SIA, Mead & Hunt, and the Historic Bridge Foundation. If you love bridges, history and water, this was the perfect tour on the SIA. Come join us next time!

To read additional details about the tour, read a post by Amy Squitieri of Mead & Hunt on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles blog. And if you can name some of the bridges pictures, please do. There were way too many to commit to memory in one afternoon! Here are more of Minnesota’s historic bridges.

*Note: Click on any image for a larger, clearer version.

Preservation Photos #184

20130603-101313.jpg
Viewing the Mill City Museum and elevators through the Stone Arch Bridge on the Mississippi River, Minneapolis, MN.

Jefferson National Expansion Memorial

The travel posts shall continue since summertime inspires road trips. And after Preservation in Pink issues are complete, I tend to step away from it for a bit, giving everyone time to read the latest issue. However, traveling is always fun to think about and plan.

Keeping with summer fun and road trips, here are pictures from the St. Louis Gateway Arch, or more appropriately, the National Park’s “Jefferson National Expansion Memorial” in St. Louis, Missouri. http://www.nps.gov/jeff/ Back to summer 2006, when my mom, Sarah, and I visited South Dakota, we also traveled through Missouri. Having been to St. Louis earlier in the summer with Vinny and Elyse (who hails from near St. Louis) I knew that the St. Louis could not be missed. Unfortunately, the first time the tickets to the top were sold out and I had not been in the arch. We knew to get there early to buy tickets because taking the ride to the top of the arch is definitely worth the $10, particularly because you are not on a stringent time limit once you reach the top.

Elyse (no-so-secretly an unofficial spokeswoman for St. Louis tourism) can most certainly give you the details of St. Louis far better than I can, so maybe she’ll do that. In the meantime, here is a photograph from the ground.

Gateway Arch from the ground

The Gateway Arch sits next to the Mississippi River, which divides Illinois and Missouri at this point. A parade of steps brings you down to the river from the gleaming arch. It is an amazing architectural feat to visit. The Museum of Westward Expansion is underground, underneath the arch and free (for those on a budget.) It is also worth your time, as you can see beautiful murals of American western landscape, learn about Lewis & Clark, pioneers, and buffalo, among other subjects. A section of the museum is devoted to Eero Saarinen, the designer of the arch and you can attempt to construct a mini arch from the pieces Saarinen used (on a smaller scale of course.)

Of course, there is a museum gift shop and National Park gift shops are always fun, educational, and your purchases support the parks! A “general store” sells pretzels and good coffee, among other “olde-fashioned” treats.

The tram ride to the top feels somewhat space-age as five people squeeze into little cars and ride up through the arch. The ride takes about four minutes and passengers can see the interior of the arch. Read more here, http://www.nps.gov/jeff/planyourvisit/tram-system.htm, from the National Park Service.

Once you’re at the top, you feel like you’re in an airplane. The view is amazing. Here is just one image from the top.

Gateway Arch from the top

If you have the chance to visit St. Louis, definitely go (and ask Elyse for St. Louis suggestions, including the Cardinals.)